Almost three years ago I updated the a webpage that tells where a specific language is spoken.
This page ws called “Where on Earth Do They Speak…”. The page itself consists of a list of languages, and clicking the language name would show the location on map.
Now there’s a new page that lets the user zoom and pan the world and see what language(s) are spoken on an area of interest. This new Languages of the World page is available here: http://maps.verbix.com/languages.html
I bough the other day Kielikello, a magazine of language use in Finnish. There was an interesting news about a new portal with Swedish placenames that was opened recently.
That reminded me of the fact that National Land Survey of Finland has released their geoinformation as open source. Not much later I downloaded the placename data of all Finnish topographic (1:25,000) maps.
From the dataset with 2 Million names, I extracted the Swedish names and put them on map. Not surprisingly the Swedish placenames are located in the same area where Swedish is spoken in Finland; the coastal areas in south and west. These are marked in red on the map.
My plan is to later add the possibility to drill down in the map and let users check different kinds of names; house names, lake names, to name a few.
Kielikello Magazine: http://www.kielikello.fi/
Swedish placenames: http://kaino.kotus.fi/svenskaortnamn/
National Land Survey of Finland: http://www.maanmittauslaitos.fi/en
The languages are not static; the languages evolve, new languages appear, and some languages disappear. Besides these changes the speakers might also migrate from one place to another.
This has happened in the history, and this goes on today.
Based on information of people migrations, I compiled a map that shows languages of Europe. This is not a typical map that shows what language is spoken where and today. Instead it’s a ‘heatmap’. The darker color, the more there have been different cultures and languages in the area.
Google Maps is one of my favorite tools that I use when surfing in the Internet.
Today I zoomed to islands outside the Estonian coast, and guess what? I found an island with the following names of villages: Borrby, Rälby, Diby, Norrby, Söderby, Hosby, Sviby, Bussby, Förby, and Saxby. All these names are typical Swedish names.
Looking back in the history, there’s a good reason for the Swedish place names; during most of its history, the island has been inhabited by Estonian Swedes (“rannarootslased” in Estonian or “coastal Swedes” in English), whose population reached 3,000 before World War II. During the war, nearly all of Vormsi’s population, along with other Swedes living in Estonia, were evacuated, or fled, to Sweden. The island’s current population is approximately 240 inhabitants.
Swedish language is a Germanic language that is spoken in Sweden and in Finland. In Finland, the Swedish language is the second official language. Swedish is spoken on coastal areas in Finland.
There are four main variants of the Swedish in Finland as shown on the map. The spoken variations differ quite a lot from each other, but as a written language they are all the same. The written language is the same in Finland and in Sweden.
I read another day in the newspaper about a Sami person who told that, in order to learn Finnish and Finnish ethnohistory, they should study Sami.
Having read the text, I remembered a map in a book that I read recently. And the map showed how the only people that dwelled in Northern Europe were Sami.
The map to the right shows the linguistic situation in Europe in 600 BC. The Sami people are displayed in light yellow, and the other (Fenno-)Ugric languages in yellow. As seen the ancestors of today’s Finnish speaking population lived in today’s Estonia and in a very limited area of today’s Southern Finland coast area.
Since then both the Finnish and Germanic tribes have pushed the Sami northward.