Mapping the Australian Lexicon
How does Australia’s population density and geographical disparity as a demographic system orchestrate regional variations in the Australian English lexicon?
Six regions in Australia have different words for the same object, ‘a tall pole used to carry telegraph, power or telephone wires above the ground.’
James Stobie invented the unique South Australian cement pole, due to the abundance of the material in the area. The term Stobie subsequently drifted north due to the relationship between South Australia and the Northern Territory. Victorians have their S.E.C. Poles, named after the State Electrical Commision who erected them. Tasmanians knows them as Hydro’s, an homage to their hydro-electric power scheme.
On the east coast, British influence dictates that they’re known as Telegraph Poles. Similarly Western Australia follows European influence and call them Power Poles. But it’s a remote area in the Far West region of New South Wales, which adheres more to South Australian influence than its own New South Welsh, breaking convention and creating their own fusion terminology, giving us the Telepole.
The concept of our linguistic identity in Australia has been largely unconsidered critically and academically, and this leaves room in Australian linguistic research that can produce a critical design response. Thus far, systematic indexing of Australian English has mostly only existed between words from Indigenous languages homogenized by English, or between Australian colloquialisms perceived by the rest of the English- speaking world.
Using generative data, 'maps' are created where factors including population, area, density, longitude and latitude are turned into colours, saturation and strength of gradient to create alternative mapping outcomes.
This speculative project intends to question the role of cartography and traditional mapping constructs in poetic and material investigation contexts, in order to establish an abstract, yet logical system that establishes language usage, not geography, as boundaries for mapping.
Exhibited at 108 Projects, Redfern