Make your dialectal data shine using GIS and R

Kristel Uiboaed, Maarja-Liisa Pilvik, Siim Antso, Eleri Aedmaa

The digital accessibility of larger datasets and corpora has led to new methods and techniques for the statistical manipulation and visualization of data. Mapping and cartographic visualization is an essential component of dialectology, but has been also applied in other fields of the humanities.

The current presentation covers two aspects of Estonian dialectological data analysis from the perspective of digital humanities. First, we show how to connect two different data sources – traditional atlas and corpus data. Second, we demonstrate how one can benefit from integrating different applications, such as widely used statistical computing software R and geographical information system QGIS by creating interactive map applications. Combining applications and mingling various data sources provide us more flexibility to represent and analyze the data. Thus, we are able to implement more diverse picture of language variation.

In addition, we introduce the problems we met when digitizing, analyzing and visualizing traditional dialectological data. We theorize how comprehensible information can help to popularize our research field, and discuss the potential of using our methods on different datasets.


  • QGIS Development Team, 2016. QGIS Geographic Information System. Open Source Geospatial Foundation. URL
  • R Development Core Team 2016, R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing., R version 3.2.4 edn, Austria, Vienna,