A very nice visualization of the language communities of London, as revealed by Twitter:

English tweets (grey) dominate (unsurprisingly) and they provide crisp outlines to roads and train lines as people tweet on the move. Towards the north, more Turkish tweets (blue) appear, Arabic tweets (green) are most common around Edgware Road and there are pockets of Russian tweets (pink) in parts of central London. The geography of the French tweets (red) is perhaps most surprising as they appear to exist in high density pockets around the centre and don’t stand out in South Kensington (an area with the Institut Francais, a French High School and the French Embassy). It may be that as a proportion of tweeters in this area they are small so they don’t stand out, or it could be that there are prolific tweeters (or bots) in the highly concentrated areas.

And don’t miss Eric Fischer’s map (at the end of the post) similarly visualising the language communities of the entire world.


  1. The French embassy is in Knightsbridge not in South Ken. “A French High School” is well known to just about everybody in London as “the lycée” or “the lycée français”, and officially it’s Le Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle. The colours on the map are terrible choices: red (French) is way too prominent compared to the other colours & languages (no Chinese?). It’s a pretty map, but you can’t see where anything is. The should at least add the river.
    Nice idea, though.

  2. Trond Engen says

    Thanks. Yes, it’s a great idea, but there’s (still?) limits to what one can make of it. It would be nice if one could turn on and off individual languages separately. On a minor note, I also wish I wouldn’t have to zoom out to check the legend.
    It’s worth noting that it’s a map of tweets and not of language communities. One problem with mapping speech communities, I suppose, is that local residents are far outnumbered by tourists, at least for French and other western European languages. To sort those away, or compare one set to the other, one might e.g. separate tweets from users rweeting from abroad within one week before or after. It could easily be done much less heavy-handed, but I think that would be sufficienty precise.

  3. That map really does raise a lot of questions. No Greek? (The Greek community in London is found in very similar places to the Turkish community, interestingly.) No South Asian languages at all?
    If you want a map showing London’s ethnicities, this one is fascinating, since by using surnames at different levels of frequency it really pulls out, eg, the Chinese around Soho, the Greeks in North East London, along with the Turks, and also the Jews in North London, around Golders Green, the Irish around Kilburn and in Hammersmith, the mass of Bangladeshis in the inner East End, the large groups of Hindis, Sikhs and Pakistanis in the westernmost boroughs, and oddities such as Nigerians in Rotherhithe and Cricklewood, and Spanish in Lambeth and Edgware, Hackney and Haringey. It’s not as good as it could be: I’d be fairly certain many of the instances of Lee are Chinese, not English, of Rose are Jewish, not English, and of Martin are French.

  4. So why are there no Jews in south London? – large Jewish communities like East Finchley, Stamford Hill, Stanmore or Golders Green in north London, I mean.

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