Building an Open-Source Language Map
May 20, 2013 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Building an Open-Source Language Map
I was working on some pretty fun language visualizations, but it turns out there's no worldwide, open dataset of where languages are spoken. So I figured hey, let's make one!

Even if you don't know the first thing about linguistics, a little Wikipedia-ing and the tiniest amount of elbow grease can go a long way toward helping out! Draw a shape on the map, fill in a couple fields, and voila - we're that much closer to the finish line.
Role: everything
posted by soma lkzx (6 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Cool. I added Swedish.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:11 PM on May 20, 2013

1) This is awesome!

2) Oh man if people get really thorough with minority languages the zoomed-out version is gonna get illegibly crowded real fast.

3) Fuck it. Minority Language Of Choice added.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 6:10 PM on May 20, 2013

2) Oh man if people get really thorough with minority languages the zoomed-out version is gonna get illegibly crowded real fast.

Minimum zoom level requirements based on total area! Dialect support! Border battles! Concentration of speakers! All this and more in a future edition of OPEN SOURCE LANGUAGE MAP!!

I mean, maybe.
posted by soma lkzx at 6:38 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cool. I added Swahili and Oubi, and may go back to fill out some more languages around Cote d'Ivoire and Kenya. Zooming and clicking things on the map is kind of fiddly, though - I double click and sometimes it zooms in, and sometimes it zooms all the way out...
posted by ChuraChura at 3:12 PM on May 21, 2013

There's so much awesome good stuff already, it's hard to find where to pitch in. It would be helpful perhaps to have priority lists for two things:
- Languages to add (if nothing else, the number of Wikipedia articles is a start); I tried a handful of obscure ones before I found Inuktitut was needed.
- Borders to refine. This could be based on area versus number of points; I'm guessing that at some point, it would be as helpful to go in and take a border that was roughed in and refine it a little. Like, Italian was at a reasonable level for identifying it from a map that had all of Europe, but that level of detail means that the borders are rough, especially in places like the Ticino/Graubunden in Switzerland.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:35 PM on May 23, 2013

The Ethnologue has regional maps in pretty insane detail.
posted by null14 at 4:22 PM on May 28, 2013

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