Two Ways of Conceptualizing Natural Landscapes

A Comparison of the Otjiherero and Rumanyo Word Cultures in Namibia
  • Wilhelm J.G. Möhlig
Part of the Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation book series (STHE, volume 4)


Landscapes, as natural phenomena of the environment, are not stable/unstable during the course of time. As seen from the perspective of those living in a specific environment, the dynamics of landscape are caused by inner and outer factors. Inner factors are permanent or temporary changes due to the global or local climate and degradation. By outer factors, we understand political or government interference and processes of migration. Whatever the reasons may be, according to our experience, the speakers of specific word cultures always tend to adapt their former systems of conceptualising landscape to new situations. For a historical linguist, the processes of adaptation remain visible in the records of landscape terminology and the underlying historical processes can be reconstructed on this basis. Therefore in this chapter we try to show, not only the contemporary dimensions of landscape conceptualisation of two Namibian word cultures, but also, in a historical perspective, the dynamism of adaptation to new environments, active in these languages.


Semantic Domain Semantic Field Sand Desert Noun Class Bantu Language 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Jekura U. Kavari collected the major part of the Otjiherero data in this article. Likewise, Karl Peter Shiyaka Mberema contributed to the Rumanyo material. I have to thank both counterparts for their valuable support. Nina Gruntkowski and Michael Bollig read an earlier version of this article. I am grateful to them for their valuable criticism and suggestions. All shortcomings in the handling of the data are, of course, my exclusive responsibility.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wilhelm J.G. Möhlig
    • 1
  1. 1.African Studies CenterLeiden UniversityLeidenNetherlands

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