Exploring Language Relationships

For my final project, I chose to use a mapping tool to show the locations of endangered, extinct, and active languages around the world. I based my project around the Endangered Language Project, which provides the location and status of languages as well as an open-sourced library of language resources. While the ELP website contains its own map, I wanted to focus my project on language families, because many endangered or extinct languages have connections to widely spoken modern languages. By analyzing language family relationships in relation to location, it is clear that many endangered languages exist in close proximity to one other that they are often pushed out of favor by the larger languages in the area, usually due to political powers.

To create the project, I used Flourish, which provides templates for various types of visualizations. I created a map of a few specific language families and their locations with metadata about the number of speakers and statuses. I used Google Earth to find the coordinates of the locations of languages. On this map, the different colors of nodes symbolize the language families. The size of the nodes corresponds to the number of speakers. For example, a large blue node represents Korean, and a small blue node represents Jejueo, which exists within the Koreanic language family. In addition to the map, I created a network chart which shows more clearly which languages are in the same families.

This project only includes a small sample of the endangered languages that exist today, but with much time and effort, a similar sort of visualization could be utilized in greater detail to show all of the endangered relationships in the world and their relationships to other languages.

Written on December 15, 2019