Mental maps and perceptual dialectology

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2 Scopus citations


Perceptual dialectology is the study of the thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that nonlinguists have about their dialect landscapes. The field foregrounds these perceptions which have been historically presumed to be of only peripheral significance in linguistic research. One of the most influential tools for studying the perceptions of nonlinguists has been the mental map task, in which participants are asked to indicate on a map where specific varieties of a language can be found, providing a label for each region delimited. This article examines the history of mental mapping in perceptual dialectology, explores recent advances in the collection, analysis and processing of such maps using Geographic Information Systems tools and other technological advancements, and provides insights about how these advances are allowing researchers to answer more questions about connections between language use, language perception, place, people and identities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12405
JournalLanguage and Linguistics Compass
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Geographic Information Systems
  • identity
  • language regard
  • mental maps
  • nonlinguists
  • perceptual dialectology
  • place

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language


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