Department of Scandinavian Languages

GIS for language study (LanGIS)

GIS for language study (LanGIS) is a two-year research environment (2017-2019) at the Dept. of Scandinavian Languages and the Dept. of Linguistics and Philology funded by the Faculty of Languages at Uppsala University. This project provides an opportunity for researchers to learn how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Following main events are planned for the academic year 2017-2018:
  • LanGIS Inspirational Seminar with Prof. William A. Kretzschmar, Jr., Dept. of English, University of Georgia, May 21, 2019 (Tuesday) at 9:00-12:30 in Eng/22-1017
  • LanGIS Talks: a lecture series on spatial analysis and GIS for language study with invited speakers, autumn term 2018
  • LanGIS Lecture Day: May 9, 2018 (Wednesday) at 9:00-12:15 in Eng/ 16-0043
  • Two-day Introductory Workshop: May 7-8, 2018 (Monday, Tuesday) at 9:15-17:00 in Eng/22-1017 and Eng/22-0025
  • Kick-off Seminar: November 8, 2017 (Wednesday) at 9:15-16:00 in Eng/16-2043

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are computerized information systems for collecting, storing, managing, and analyzing location-based data. The revolution in methodology that GIS has brought about has shown its clear effect in several fields of science, including linguistics. Internationally, language research using GIS methods is a growing field. Areas of application for GIS range from general linguistics and variational linguistics to runology and onomastics. The aim of the planned research environment is to digitize the faculty's research on location-based materials by popularizing the use of GIS as well as by creating a platform for cooperation for research staff in the faculty. Such a platform has the potential to contribute to interdisciplinary collaborations within and outside the faculty and university. The Figure below is an example of what mapping and visualisation of language data, in this case nominal classification, can look like. It shows a general distribution of numeral classifier and gender languages in the world, based on data from the The World Atlas of Language Structures (Corbett, 2013; Gil, 2013).

The research environment will undertake a series of activities over two years to explore the analytical tools provided by GIS together, thereby giving the faculty's research on location-based materials a lift. At the seminars and workshops planned under this initiative, the emphasis will be placed on method development in concrete mini-projects that representatives from the different subject areas and institutions will plan together, discussing the use of various GIS software such as ArcGIS and QGIS, among others. GIS is a new phenomenon at the faculty. We will therefore draw upon international expertise to promote discussion on GIS methods and areas of application. The research environment's activities will be concluded with an “inspiration workshop” in 2019 where the faculty's need for a GIS infrastructure for research and teaching will be discussed.


Project leader & Coordinator: Alexandra Petrulevich
Coordinator: Marc Tang 
Members of the project: Full list

  • Greville G. Corbett. 2013. Number of Genders. In: Dryer, Matthew S. & Haspelmath, Martin (eds.) The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  • David Gil. 2013. Numeral Classifiers. In: Dryer, Matthew S. & Haspelmath, Martin (eds.) The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
  • Dryer, Matthew S. & Haspelmath, Martin (eds.) 2013. The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.