LINGUIST List 9.1486

Fri Oct 23 1998

Sum: Language Maps

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Mari Broman Olsen, Language Maps

Message 1: Language Maps

Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 11:01:12 -0400 (EDT)
From: Mari Broman Olsen <>
Subject: Language Maps

None exist...I had several responses: all queries like yours. The
following was the most helpful.

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The behavior of the major mapmakers (I can vouch only for Rand
McNally, Hammond, and National Geographic, but the important European
ones seem to agree--e.g. Bartholomew, Kummerley & Frey, Michelin,
etc.) suggests that they believe there is ZERO market for such a
product. I like to collect atlases (I try to get one representative of
each time a major company changes its graphics--usually last year's
model remaindered, so it's pretty cheap), and I have watched the
language maps deteriorate over the last few decades. Nowadays, if
you're lucky, there may be a map of official languages--quite useless!

The only slightly decent language maps (and they didn't even include
them for every continent) were in a now defunct atlas (I've forgotten
the name) which in the early 70s came in two different sizes.

But, to come to your question directly, the University of Chicago map
library has a Soviet world language map that's fairly detailed, which
you may be able to find at the LC if not at UMd; and in the 1950s one
Albert Drexel (who seems to have been an unregenerate Nazi from
Switzerland) published a superb language map, which was sold as both
an insert in one of the volumes of his System einer Philosophie der
Sprache and as the first (and only) fascicle of an ethnographic
atlas. (I made a color Xerox of one of the Northwestern U copies, one
of the last things I did before moving from Chicago to New York, but
have never assembled the panels into the full display, because how
would I use/display it?) In 1934 (I think it is) he published a
superb language atlas (Atlas Linguisticum) which is unknown to the
linguistics profession--Chicago has a copy and the New York Public
Library has a copy catalogued (I haven't yet requested to see it
there), but it's not in the National Union Catalog, nor is it in any
bibliography of linguistics. (All this will be detailed in my review
of the Routledge *Atlas of the World's Languages* for the journal

Peter T. Daniels
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