Naming principles and spatial units of folk plot names on Hirado Island, Western Japan: Connection between geography and cognitive linguistics

Satoshi Imazato

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper reexamines various findings on naming principles and spatial units of folk plot names, which are informally assigned by residents themselves to each rice paddy and dry field surrounded by a ridge. Each folk name derivation, spatial unit, land use, size, angle of inclination, height of stone-faced slopes, and surrounding landscape elements were investigated. This study covered 139 plots held by eight case-study households within Houki and Koba villages on Hirado Island, which has numerous steep terraced paddies and dispersed villages. Several key findings were obtained regarding naming principles: the frequency of use of four cognitive linguistic principles (simplified attributes, part-whole relationships, spatial adjacency, and temporal adjacency) in the two villages is clearly different from that in villages on a plain outside the island; the frequency of such use also differs among households within a single village: some plot names are based on plural principles; and the residents' ability to organize their knowledge of plot names effectively is based on other methods in addition to the adaptation of minor place names. Moreover, key concepts of cognitive linguistics such as affordance, prototype, landmark, and trajectory, as well as base and profile, can theoretically explain the method of naming plots. The existing hypotheses on spatial units of folk plot names need to be partially revised for various reasons: people reduce the amount of spatial information not only by adaptation of common minor place names to household plot names but also by frequent adaptation of common nouns, while using the same names of such nouns within separate farm areas; two plots previously divided as a result of a landform change such as a landslide may still share the same plot name: a plot name is rarely given to a half-plot: and one casestudy household cultivates some plots that have not been named.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-126
Number of pages21
JournalGeographical Review of Japan, Series B
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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