Representing Spatial Structure Through Maps and Language: Lord of the Rings Encodes the Spatial Structure of Middle Earth

Cognitive Science 36 (8):1556-1569 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Spatial mental representations can be derived from linguistic and non‐linguistic sources of information. This study tested whether these representations could be formed from statistical linguistic frequencies of city names, and to what extent participants differed in their performance when they estimated spatial locations from language or maps. In a computational linguistic study, we demonstrated that co‐occurrences of cities in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit predicted the authentic longitude and latitude of those cities in Middle Earth. In a human study, we showed that human spatial estimates of the location of cities were very similar regardless of whether participants read Tolkien’s texts or memorized a map of Middle Earth. However, text‐based location estimates obtained from statistical linguistic frequencies better predicted the human text‐based estimates than the human map‐based estimates. These findings suggest that language encodes spatial structure of cities, and that human cognitive map representations can come from implicit statistical linguistic patterns, from explicit non‐linguistic perceptual information, or from both.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,386

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Symbol Interdependency in Symbolic and Embodied Cognition.Max M. Louwerse - 2011 - Topics in Cognitive Science 3 (2):273-302.
Introduction to the Topic on Modeling Spatial Cognition.Glenn Gunzelmann - 2011 - Topics in Cognitive Science 3 (4):628-631.
Conceptuality in spatial representations.Gottfried Vosgerau - 2007 - Philosophical Psychology 20 (3):349 – 365.
Inscribing the body, exscribing space.Ivar Hagendoorn - 2012 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (1):69-78.


Added to PP

77 (#211,518)

6 months
3 (#992,474)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?