Muturzikin.

Muturzikin.com has “Linguistic maps of Basque Country, Africa, America, Asia, Europe & Oceania.” The About page says:

Who is Muturzikin ?

I wish to stay anonymous online but ”Muturzikiña” is my real nickname. To make it shorter, call me Mutur. [...]

About my aim, my language maps display the ethnic and linguistic complexities in some parts of the world. Each language limit or isogloss transcends geographical borders, where appropriate. I am committed to a different, more enlightening approach to cartography and I seek to preserve the integrity of the area in which the language or dialect is spoken, even where this crosses international borders.

I think that the loss of linguistic diversity entails not only the disappearance of a large number of languages — and the cultural and identity loss that accompanies it — it also entails an important reduction of the genetic information which could help us understand the history of languages and the relationships different linguistic communities had in the past.

Linguistic diversity also shows typological information—that is, what is common or different in the structure of languages—and this kind of information helps us understand the nature and functioning of languages. When a language disappears, we also lose information about how different linguistic communities view reality and the most important to me, how their languages shape it.

Yes, that last bit gets a little Sapir-Whorfy, but who cares? Check out those maps! Good for you, Mutur, whoever you are. (And thanks, Paul!)

Comments

  1. A fun site, with a whole lot of effort gone into it.

    Muturzikin’s About page indicates he’s based in Rouyn-Noranda, Québec. I once got a mild upbraiding from a Francophone resident of Strasbourg for pronouncing Rouen, the city in France, the same way I had always pronounced the first element of the Quebec city’s name. Tricky stuff for us Anglos. Can anybody enlighten?

    Rouen is much prettier, fwiw, but there’s poutine on the menu in Rouyn-Noranda.

  2. marie-lucie says:

    I tried to access the maps but I suspect that my computer is too old.

    Rouyn vs Rouen: Rouen in Normandy is pronounced as if written “Rouan”(in one syllable) – the people are the Rouennais pronounced as if “Rouannais”. However, if you pronounced the name with a Quebec accent (which has different nasal vowels than a “metropolitan” one), it might be interpreted in France as if written “Rouyn”.

  3. Interesting, and yes, he’s put a lot of work into it, but I have two cavils.

    Firstly, the maps seem motivated quite largely by wishful thinking. Even if we make allowances for the ‘priority given to dialects and indigenous minority languages’, there really isn’t a noticeable Gaelic-speaking area in the middle of the Southern Uplands of Scotland. He labels the area ‘ghaidhealtachd & scots’, which is a rather absurd designation, marrying two unrelated languages. Similarly, Cornish is (unfortunately) a dead language, in the sense that it is not used for ordinary day-to-day purposes by a community of people. (I am aware that it is used by some enthusiasts, but that’s not enough.)

    Secondly, as a cartography nerd, I have to point out that the map projections are just about as bad as you can get: the Peters projection for the world map, and the Plate Carrée for the detailed maps, neither of which has any discernible merits (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gall%E2%80%93Peters_projection and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equirectangular_projection).

    Oh, one other thing: the dialect borders in England don’t bear much relation to most other work in the field, and things like the little oval marked ‘Brummy’ are no more than a joke, I suppose.

  4. I admit that Cornish is marked with a little x meaning ‘revived’ – but has it been revived? As far as I know only one language has ever been brought back from the dead: modern Hebrew. It takes a superhuman effort.

  5. Hebrew was in use as a lingua franca, and in addition it was taught to children starting at age three, before they had entirely mastered their native language. So it doesn’t really count as dead.

    Cornish gets about as much use as Esperanto, relative to the population size. Like E-o, it has a handful of bilingual native speakers.

  6. Rodger C says:

    Afaik there hasn’t been any Gaelic in Galloway since the seventeenth century and in the Southern Uplands since the thirteenth. If he’s representing anything, it’s transplanted communities and/or L2 learners.

  7. What’s that large swath of Tosk Albanian doing running from NE Peleponese along the Isthmus of Corinth, through Thrace and swinging around to Cape Sounion? Do they really outnumber Greek speakers?

  8. Yes, if you look only at people’s home language. Until about 1900, Athens itself was a tiny outpost of hellenophones (speaking a dialect now defunct) in a huge sea of Albanian-speakers, Arvanites as they are called in Greek, or Arbërorë in their own language. They have been there since the Middle Ages, and now identify themselves as “Hellenes but not Greeks”, equal members of the Greek state. They don’t consider either themselves or their language Albanian. Their language, now endangered due to ongoing language shift to Greek, has less Abstand from Tosk (Standard) Albanian than Gheg (Northern) Albanian does, but does not (as Gheg does) come under the Tosk Dachsprache.

  9. They have been there since the Middle Ages, and now identify themselves as “Hellenes but not Greeks”, equal members of the Greek state. They don’t consider either themselves or their language Albanian.

    That is, of course, hardly a free choice; similarly, the Slavic-speakers of Greece don’t consider themselves or their language Slavic (let alone, God help us, Macedonian), or at least they don’t say so in public.

  10. It was a free choice at the time of Greek independence, though; the Arvanites threw themselves enthusiastically onto the Hellenic side against the Ottomans. They even tried to get Albanians in what is now Albania to join in; when that failed, they essentially chose a Hellene/Arvanite identity over a Shqip identity. No less than seven prime ministers of Greece have been Arvanite, though admittedly none since WWII. What makes the Arvanites different from Greeks today, however, is that they reject the standard Greek viewpoint “Hellenes = Greeks” in favor of “Hellenes include Greeks and Arvanites”. (There are also non-Arvanite Albanians in Greece today who see themselves more like a typical minority, Poles in Lithuania or what not.)

  11. The wonders of learning never cease!

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