Subway Language Maps :

Subway Language Maps

Posted by Tess Wood on November 17th, 2014

Oliver O'Brien's Tube Tongues map Tube Tongues (Oliver O’Brien)

Langscape’s map (based on the World Language Mapping System, v.16) shows linguistic homelands for languages around the world. But there are many other valuable and enlightening ways of using maps to understand how languages are distributed and used – some of which we hope to add to Langscape in the future – from detailed dialect maps to maps showing second languages, lingua francas, official language statuses, levels of endangerment, and more.

We’ll be featuring some different language maps on the Langscape blog, starting with two similarly-themed maps which the Langscape team has enjoyed lately:

Tube Tongues, a map by Oliver O’Brien, shows the most commonly spoken language after English in the vicinity of each of the London Underground stations, as well as listing all other languages spoken by more than 1% of the neighborhood’s population. In addition to being able to see many of the different language communities around London, with some exploration you can discover which parts of the city are most linguistically diverse and which are more homogeneous.**

MLanguages Above the Subwayichelle Johnson’s Languages Above the Subway shows how speakers of different languages are distributed in New York relative to the subway lines (based on data from the 2010 census). Pick your favorite line and see how the mix of languages changes from end to end!

These maps give an interesting view of the languages in their respective cities. Many residents and visitors of both cities are undoubtedly familiar with the subway maps but may know very little about the linguistic landscape that lies above them as they travel. Both maps are definitely worth some exploration.


**(If you don’t want to click on every station to find out, Oliver revealed in his blog that Turnpike Lane on the Piccadilly Line is the most linguistically diverse, with 16 different languages which are spoken by more than 1% of the population.)