Exploring Regional Variation in Spatial Language Using Spatially Stratified Web-Sampled Route Direction Documents

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Spatial language, such as route directions, can be analyzed to shed light on how humans communicate and conceptualize spatial knowledge. This article details a computational linguistic approach using route directions to study regional variations in spatial language. We developed a web-sourcing approach to collect human-generated route direction documents on a geographical scale. Specifically, we built the Spatially strAtified Route Direction (SARD) Corpus through automated scraping, classifying, and georeferencing of route directions. Based on semantic categories of cardinal and relative direction terms, the analysis of the SARD Corpus reveals significant differences and patterns on both national (United States, United Kingdom, and Australia) and regional (contiguous U.S. states) levels. Combining computational linguistics and georeferencing approaches offers the potential for extending classic spatial linguistic studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-283
Number of pages29
JournalSpatial Cognition and Computation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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