Two studies on toponyms in literary texts


Because it is impossible for individuals to “read” everything in a large corpus, advocates of distant reading employ computational techniques to “mine” the texts for significant patterns and then use statistical analysis to make statements about those patterns (Wulfman 2014).

Although the attention of linguists is commonly drawn to forms other than proper nouns, the significance of place names in particular exceeds the usual frame of deictic and indexical functions, as they encapsulate more than a mere reference in space. In a recent publication, I present two studies that center on the visualization of place names in literary texts written in German, with particular emphasis on the concept of visualization, that is on the processes and not on the products (Crampton 2001). I discuss research on toponym extraction and linkage from an interdisciplinary perspective and address questions related to research theory and practice.


The first case consists of a preliminary study of travel literature based on Richthofen’s Travel Journals from China (Tagebücher aus China, 1907) and relies on manually annotated data. The resulting map retraces the path taken by the author in the Shandong province by combining coordinates, sequences, and a sense of time. In order to …

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