History, Language

English Language Family Tree

Indo-European Language TreeOh man – this is a beautiful rendering of the Indo-European language family, stretching from English, to Russian, to Hindi–and also, like anything worth viewing on the internet, augmented by playful cats (full image below). Artist Minna Sundberg regretted that there wasn’t space to include hundreds of smaller linguistic offshoots, so the map is definitely not exhaustive, but still an impressive undertaking. Many who commented on the site didn’t seem to understand the concept of a language family, wondering why other significant languages were excluded (Arabic, Turkish, Tamil, etc.). Continue reading “English Language Family Tree”

Language, Politics, Vocabulary

Map of What Countries Actually Call Themselves

endoIn a previous post about the power of naming, I referenced the fact that we oftentimes don’t call nations by the names they use for themselves.

I just found out there’s actually a word for what an ethnic group or nation calls itself: It’s called an ENDONYM, and there’s an entire map of them at endonymmap.com:

On the actual website, you can zoom in and explore the map, but here’a a sample screenshot:

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 9.41.21 AM

The website’s Answers, Errata and Discussion section is equally interesting:According to endonyms.com, “A map of this nature taps into some deep notions of personal identity and can arouse strong nationalist passions. Indeed, I’ve received many (mostly polite) questions and comments asking why a particular language was used for a label, Continue reading “Map of What Countries Actually Call Themselves”

Dialect, Diversity, Language

How Many Englishes Do you Speak?

It’s no secret that English-speaking Americans can sound vastly different from one another. We have different accents (Southern, Jersy, “Bah-ston”), vocabulary (pop vs. soda), and good ol’ colloquial idioms (Really New England, how can 15 minutes before an hour [e.g. 12:45] be referred to as “quarter OF?”). A grad student at N. Carolina State University created some amazing maps of some of these differences which, according to the Huffington Post, briefly “set the internet on fire.”

The levels of allegiance to this word are staggering.

We freely discuss these differences, but rarely talk about how they impact our perceptions. We know people make assumptions based on race, gender, or clothing styles, but do we judge based on dialect as well?

In my Language, Literacy, and Culture course, I used Morocco as an example of a Linguistically Stratified Society in which the language you speak strongly indicates your social class. French, for example, is more often used in universities and legal documents, while Darija tends to be the at-home language of urban communities, Tashelhit for rural areas, etc. I used the graphic below to “rank” the social status of each language.

moroc
Note that this is NOT a comparison of the actual legitimacy, complexity, or beauty of the languages – from a linguistics standpoint they’re completely equal.

Continue reading “How Many Englishes Do you Speak?”