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Articles tagged with: Language mapping

Punjabi and the Problems of Mapping Dialect Continua

By Martin W. Lewis | March 11, 2013 | 14 Comments

The Wikipedia list of the world’s most widely spoken languages, by mother tongue, puts Punjabi in tenth place, with its roughly 100 million native speakers exceeding the figures given for German, French, Italian, Turkish, Persian and many other well-known languages. The Wikipedia article on the Punjabi language stresses its growing appeal, noting that, “The influence of Punjabi as a cultural …

Linguistic Phylogenies Are Not the Same as Biological Phylogenies

By Martin W. Lewis | October 17, 2012 | 22 Comments

(Note: This post is jointly written by Martin Lewis and Asya Pereltsvaig)
A key assumption of Bouckaert et al. is that the diversification and spread of languages operates so similarly to the diversification and spread of biological organism that the two processes can successfully be modeled in the same manner. The parallels between organic and linguistic evolution are indeed pronounced. Both …

103 Errors in Mapping Indo-European Languages in Bouckaert et al. Concluded: Part V, Western Europe

By Martin W. Lewis | October 11, 2012 | 5 Comments

By now, all of the cartographic failings of Bouckaert et al. have become familiar. On the map of France and neighboring areas, for example, we see the unreasonable elevation of minor dialects to the status of discrete languages (three forms of Breton make the list), the replacement of a non-Indo-European language with an Indo-European languages (the Basque region is shown …

103 Errors in Mapping Indo-European Languages in Bouckaert et al., Part IV (Central Europe)

By Martin W. Lewis | October 10, 2012 | 10 Comments

(Continued) The main problems with the language map of eastern Central Europe in Bouckaert et al. have already been discussed; to whit, the depiction of “national” languages as coterminous with state boundaries. The authors do occasionally deviate from this norm, showing, for example, a tiny non-Romanian area in northwestern Romania. Note also that they show Latvian as failing to reach …

103 Errors in Mapping Indo-European Languages in Bouckaert et al., Part III: From Western Russia to the Balkan Peninsula

By Martin W. Lewis | October 9, 2012 |

(Continued) The most glaring error in the linguistic map of western Russia and environs by Bouckaert et al. concerns the labeling of Belarus. The number “22,” placed in the center of the country, is listed as signifying the “Czech E,” which presumably means “eastern Czech.” As the authors have correspondingly appended the label “Byelorussian” to a small area in the …

103 Errors in Mapping Indo-European Languages in Bouckaert et al., Part I

By Martin W. Lewis | October 4, 2012 | 4 Comments

As our criticisms of Bouckaert et al. have been extremely harsh, we must justify them in some detail. I have accused the authors of erring “at every turn,” a charge that reeks of hyperbole. But even if that claim is exaggerated, it is still not too far from the mark. To demonstrate the extraordinary density of error in the Science …

Misleading Language Maps on the Internet

By Martin W. Lewis | July 10, 2012 | 31 Comments

Although the internet allows easy access to manifold cartographic treasures, it provides even more rapid access to misleading, poorly constructed, and laughably inaccurate maps. Consider, for example, language maps at the global scale. A simple Google image search of “world language map” yields over 600 million results, although only the top hits, and by no means all of them, actually show linguistic maps of the world. Those that do can in general be divided into two categories: maps that depict language families, and maps focused on the most widely spoken individual languages. Today’s post considers the latter category, analyzing Google’s eight most highly ranked “world language maps” that portray the distribution of specific languages

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