Monday, August 3, 2015

Mother Tongues

Occasionally you come across a graphic that is an amazing mix of excellent information and creative presentation. Saw one today by infographics wizard Alberto Lucas Lopez (from Navarra in Spain) that is the best visualization for world languages that I have come across (below, click for full size).

As a mother tongue, English is not dominant. But the bottom graphs show English is spoken in more countries (110) countries than any other language and is by far the most popular language being studied around the world (1500 million learners). 

Finally, at bottom right we learn that Papua New Guinea has an astounding 839 languages!

Here is another wild one showing Chinese investments around the world from 2005 to 2014. Amazing and hard to imagine any way to show the information better. Bravo Alberto!

I can't resist one more by Alberto: Mortality causes in the 20 richest and 20 poorest countries. Note the leading cause of death in Saudi Arabia is road injuries. It is widely considered the most dangerous country in the world for driving (outside of war zones). Having lived and driven there for 3 years, this is no surprise to me.


mycarta said...

Being a bilingual person, and having both studies several languages and taught one (Italian) I've looked at a lot of these diagrams and I must agree this is one of the best I recall seeing.

The observation about Papua New Guinea becomes even more stunning if you consider the proportion in terms of languages and dialects altogether (someone, I cannot remember who though, said that languages are dialects with an army), which I have read about in Jared Diamond's The World until Yesterday: ~6000 of the about ~7000 in the world are spoken on that island.

mycarta said...

I checked and I had my numbers wrong.

The ~7000 is indeed the total of actual languages, without dialects, and of those ~800 are spoken in Papa New Guinea, as you have written. Diamond's book does not have the numbers with dialects.

It would be interesting to see the distribution of languages spoken in each country versus the population. Papa New Guinea has only 7.3 million people...