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Linguistic map of the world

Here’s an idea for the new media folk: how about a map of the linguistic connections around the world? Not sure quite how the visualisation would work, but it’s inspired by this Shirky article, which reinterprets proximity in terms of linguistic connection.

In the next century, as countries increasingly trade more in information than hard goods, the definition of proximity changes from geographic to linguistic: two countries border one another if and only if they have a language they can use in common.

Making it fly is left as an exercise for the reader. (Some thoughts: interpreted literally as border connections, the map is no longer planar; whopping great lines superimposed on a “standard” projection aren’t very satisfying; some recognition of numbers or percentages of speakers would be nice.) Me? I got a thesis to write…


  1. erik wrote:

    collection of language maps world atlas of language structures see also the works and courses of UvA professor Abram de Swaan. Oh yeah, and if someone really wants to dig into this have a look at O’reilly’s Mapping Hacks

    Thursday, June 30, 2005 at 3:49 pm | Permalink
  2. tikitu wrote:

    Yeah, the first one is the sort of thing I’ve seen before (colours superimposed on Mercator projections). I was thinking of something quite different, which probably doesn’t exist (for various very good reasons). As a by-the-way, though, I found a great site explaining projections in huge detail. Very nice.

    Friday, July 1, 2005 at 5:23 pm | Permalink