Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

C. Grant Head

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


One primary goal of cartographic research is to improve cartographic communication. Psychophysical and cognitive research has assisted our understanding of the map use process. The present study is from a perspective of maps as a visual language. This study hypothesizes that (1) the map symbol system constitutes a visual ideographic language and (2) cartographic communication may be improved by applying the methods of teaching visual ideographic languages as a second language. Chinese script originated in primitive drawings of concrete things--pictographs--and ideographs. These became stylized and combined, and were expanded greatly in number. Although the characters came to include phonetic symbols, the script can be used as a completely visual language and is not structured as a parallel to the phonetic language as are alphabetic languages. Furthermore, written Chinese is processed mentally much more holistically and requires more reader-origin organization than alphabetic languages. maps have all the fundamental attributes of Chinese writing. maps with their many non-phonetic symbols are essentially visual. Both cartographic symbols and early Chinese characters are often mimetic. To understand maps, symbols must be put into relation with other symbols that are not arranged linearly. Similarly, to understand Chinese, each. character must be put into relation with other characters that can be sequenced vertically or horizontally and left to right or right to left. Studies of teaching Chinese as a Second Language stress that a variety of approaches are necessary in teaching such a complex, high-level cognitive process. The basics of lexicon and syntax need rote learning, substitution exercises and much experience. All these components and approaches could be applied to a map use teaching programme. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Convocation Year


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