Journal article

What in the World Is North? Translating Cardinal Directions across Languages, Cultures and Environments

Alice Gaby, J Lum, Thomas Poulton, Jonathan Schlossberg

M/C Journal | M/C - Media and Culture | Published : 2017


For many, north is an abstract point on a compass, an arrow that tells you which way to hold up a map. Though scientifically defined according to the magnetic north pole, and/or the earth’s axis of rotation, these facts are not necessarily discernible to the average person. Perhaps for this reason, the Oxford English Dictionary begins with reference to the far more mundane and accessible sun and features of the human body, in defining north as; “in the direction of the part of the horizon on the left-hand side of a person facing the rising sun” (OED Online). Indeed, many of the words for ‘north’ around the world are etymologically linked to the left hand side (for example Cornish clēth ‘nort..

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University of Melbourne Researchers