Vectors, aboriginal kitsch and isoglosses

I wandered into the office today to see Jane and Mark with a large map of part of the northern territory rolled out on the floor, discussing the issue of iso-glosses, and boundaries. Maps maps maps. They’re just everywhere at the moment!

Jangari at Hosstuff recently put up a google earth file listing several Aboriginal place names around Sydney. Excellent stuff! And a little commentary on the whole darling harbour east development thrown in too. Although, I guess given the similarity with a certain biblical reference, I can see why they didn’t go for “gomora”. Jangari: congrats on your honours too btw.
Clicking on through Jangari’s post, the google earth for linguists post at Jabal al-Lughat looks interesting. It seems lately that more and more google earth fans keep emerging from all over the place.
At PARADISEC I’ve encountered two interesting vectorisations (ie, taking a picture and turning it into a bunch of polygons) of language maps out there that linguists might be interested in (especially if you’re into pacific languages). The first is a vectorisation of the Wurm & Hattori maps, the second is a vectorisation of the language boundaries of just about all the languages in the ethnologue database (no idea where the data came from). Have a look at the ECAI clearinghouse if you’re looking for language maps (or any kind of map).
A couple of weekends ago at the papuan languages conference here at Sydney Uni, Mark Donohue gave a talk that used maps rather heavily, and I suspect the W&H maps would have been useful.
At PARADISEC we spent a lot of last year adding geographic bounding boxes to all of our catalogue items. Log in as a guest and try a geographic search if you like. Our catalogue is represented as a density plot, so the darker areas show the highest concentration of materials.
Soon we’ll be able to auto-add language bounding boxes for new materials. When people add something to our database, when they specify a language they’ll be able to click a button to auto-populate their item metadata with a preliminary bounding box. If they want to specify a more specific region they can pull up a map, zoom in and draw another box.