Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2012, Vol. 67 ›› Issue (7): 867-877.doi: 10.11821/xb201207001

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The Concept and Characteristics of GIS Language

HU Zui1,2, TANG Guo'an1, LU Guonian1   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Virtual Geographic Environment of Ministry of Education, Nanjing 210046, China;
    2. Department of Resources & Environment and Tourism Management, Hengyang 421008, Hunan, China
  • Received:2012-02-12 Revised:2012-04-02 Online:2012-07-20 Published:2012-10-11
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40930531;Opening Foundation of State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environment Information System of China, No.2010KF0002SA; Key Constructive Disciplines Projects of Human Geography in Hunan Province

Abstract: Language plays an important role in communication, sharing and conveying information for human beings. GIS language is very important in understanding, researching, representing and transmitting geographical information. It gradually evolves and develops with promotion of the science and technology progress and cognition level. Concerning with the theoretical progresses from the geographical information ontology, espistemology and linguistic theory, this paper firstly proposes the conception and basic features of GIS language according to the geographical language's changes in language structure, function and characteristics. GIS language could be regarded as a synthetic and digital symbolic system. It is a comprehensive representation of geographical objects, phenomenon and their spatial distribution and dynamic processes. This representation helps us to generate a universal perception of geography space by the geographical scenarios or symbols with geometry, status, processes, temporal-spatial relationship, semantic and attribution features. Furthermore, this paper states that GIS language is a new generation geographical language by its intrinsic characteristics, structure, functions and systematic content. As the former's theoretical foundation, the paper definitely illustrates the important status and contributions of the GIS language to geographical researches. All in all, GIS language is the new geographical language with some new features including temporal-spatial multi-dimension representation, interactive visualization, virtual geographical scenario, multi-sensor sensing, expediently broadcasting with web, in current new era.
GIS language is the highest level of geographical language because it integrates the semantic definition, features extraction, geographical dynamic representation and temporal-spatial unifying computation of geographical objects. GIS language have five important characteristics: abstraction, systemization, strictness, definition and hierarchical structure. In summary, GIS language provides a new tool for the recognition, understanding and simulation of the whole geographical environments. So, the exploration of GIS language's function in contemporary geographical development becomes increasingly important. Meanwhile, the construction of the conceptual model and scientific systems of GIS language will promote the development of geography discipline and geographical information sciences. Therefore, the paper forecasts the GIS language's future development from the viewpoints of digital technologies, geography norm, geography discipline development and geographical modeling.

Key words: GIS, language, conceptual model, ontology