Katie Butler Gao, a PhD student in linguistics, is working on an interesting project:
The Language of Tea (2015, work in progress)
The word for “tea” in the majority of the world’s languages comes from a borrowing of either the Northern Chinese word cha or the Southern Chinese word te (e.g. the Hindi word chai and the English word tea). The widespread borrowing of the word for ‘tea’ is linguistically fascinating because it is directly related to contact that occurred through major land and sea trade routes since the 15th century.
Inspired by the WALS chapter on tea and Dan Jurafsky’s The Language of Food (2014), this map is a project that grew out of a 2014 Map Design and Production course, taught by Everett Wingert in the UH Mānoa Geography Department.
The map (above) was originally designed as a wall map, but I hope to develop this into a digital interactive map more readily accessible online. I am in the process of converting the language names and words for tea into a spreadsheet with longitude and latitude points. I currently have around 300 languages (for aesthetic reasons), but would like to add more to a digital version!
If you would like to contribute information on your language or one you know about, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with this information: language name, location of language (long/lat point would be great), word for ‘tea’ in Romanized script and local script, variations of the word for Camellia sinensis or words for other local kinds of tea (i.e. leaves/herbs steeped in water to make a beverage).