The World’s Language Density, Mapped

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  12.22.09 | 3:10 PM ET

Over at Gadling, Aaron Hotfelder’s come across a fascinating Swedish map of the world that shows countries re-sized in proportion to the number of languages they’ve produced. The biggie? Papua New Guinea.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

4 Comments for The World’s Language Density, Mapped

Terry 12.22.09 | 5:31 PM ET

They speak more than 800 languages in Papua New Guinea! Most people speak at least three. Fascinating.

Greg 12.23.09 | 11:45 AM ET

I wouldn’t believe this language map prima facie, though. The definition of “language” is slippery, and it’s applied unevenly.

For example, South Africa is said to have 11 official languages. Many of them, however, are mutually intelligible, like Sesotho and Setswana.

If you define those two as different languages, then surely the “English” spoken in Glasgow is a different language than the “English” spoken in Los Angeles. Heck, the “English” spoken in Alabama should be called a different language than the “English” spoken in Los Angeles.

Grizzly Bear Mom 12.23.09 | 2:27 PM ET

The young Latino man who works next door to me asked me to teach him how to speak English, particularly verb tenses.  Any suggestions?

Chris 12.23.09 | 5:12 PM ET

GBM: Get some old grade-school textbooks off Amazon or eBay. I’m in a free Spanish class that’s using old elementary books, and if you can get past the juvenile exercises and pictures it is actually a pretty good way to learn it.

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