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.
There is the tendency in Finland to tell that Finland is for the Finns and they should therefore all talk Finnish. And they moreover tell that Swedes were conquerors (when they arrived 1000 years ago the “Finnish” shores) and implanted Swedish, and the Russians tried that (200 years ago), too.
With that background, I couldn’t but laugh for myself as I encountered a map like this in a book about the root of the Europeans.
On the map areas 1 and 2 represent the Sami people around AD 0. Area 3 is area that the Sami inhabited during XIV and XV centuries.
And the area 2 is the area where the Finnish (first tribes, nowadays government) have pushed the Sami away. So with this background, the ongoing linguistic and cultural aggression towards the Sami, Swedish speaking Finns and other linguistic minorities can be seen as a continuum for what has gone on for more than 2 millenniums.
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.
Somewhen in the past I got familiar with a site called Ethnologue. It contains information about all languages in the world.
One thing that I was missing though is the lack of maps that would better show where the languages are spoken. At that time there wasn’t any other site either that would contain many languages plotted on the map.