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Articles in Linguistic Geography

My Error on Ukraine’s Political Divisions

By Martin W. Lewis | October 15, 2014 | 13 Comments

Several months ago, I posted an article and a map on GeoCurrents in which I divided Ukraine into a “nationalist” region and a “Russian-oriented” region. In retrospect, it seems that most of the area that I had designated as “Russian-Oriented Ukraine” does not actually fit that category. Despite the fact that a few pro-Russian demonstrations have occurred in a number …

GeoCurrents Summer Vacation

By Martin W. Lewis | June 10, 2014 | 3 Comments

Dear Readers,
I am sorry to say that GeoCurrents will be taking its annual summer vacation for the next five or six weeks. During this time, several guest posts may be run, but I will not be contributing any posts myself. For the next two weeks, my attention will be focused on grading papers and examinations and on finishing the book manuscript …

India and Indonesia: Pronounced Differences in Electoral Geography

By Martin W. Lewis | April 18, 2014 | One Comment

As India and Indonesia, the world’s largest and third largest democracies respectively, carry out their complex 2014 national elections, it is worthwhile to compare their political and electoral developments since independence. Although the two countries have much in common, they have taken a markedly different direction in political ideology and electoral geography. In India today, two major and several minor …

The Vexatious History of Indo-European Studies, Part III

By Martin W. Lewis | December 17, 2013 | 23 Comments

(Note to readers: This is the third of at least five posts derived from a draft chapter of our forthcoming book on the Indo-European controversy. This particular chapter examines the intellectual history of Indo-European studies, focusing on the most contentious ideas and ideologically motivated arguments. Its ultimate aim is to help explain why the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origins, which …

The Vexatious History of Indo-European Studies, Part II

By Martin W. Lewis | December 13, 2013 | 7 Comments

(Note to readers: this is the second portion of a chapter of our forthcoming book on the Indo-European controversy; more will follow. This chapter outlines the main ideological ramifications of the debates concerning Indo-European origins and dispersion.  It is not an account of the development of Indo-European linguistics. It is rather concerned with the use, and especially the misuse, of …

The Vexatious History of Indo-European Studies, Part I

By Martin W. Lewis | December 11, 2013 | 14 Comments

(Dear Readers,
As mentioned previously, I am now working on our forthcoming book on the Indo-European controversy.  I have now finished the chapter on the history of the debates, which I will post here at GeoCurrents, in pieces, over the next two week.  Bibliographic references are not included, although they may be added later. Comments and criticisms are of course welcome.)
Debates …

Controversies over Ethnicity, Affirmative Action, and Economic Development in Malaysia

By Martin W. Lewis | September 20, 2013 | 2 Comments

Few issues are more controversial in Malaysia than the country’s National Development Policy, particularly its extensive “affirmative action” provisions that provide economic and social advantages for the majority (61%) indigenous population (“Bumiputeras”) at the expense of the Chinese and Indian communities. Dating back to the early 1970s, this policy has resulted in significant economic gains for the Malay community, but …

Discrepancies in Mapping Persian/Farsi in Iran

By Martin W. Lewis | July 1, 2013 | 36 Comments

GeoCurrents is deeply concerned with language mapping, as we find maps of language distribution to be highly useful and, if done properly, aesthetically appealing. But we also tend to be critical of linguistic cartography, as the spatial patterning of language is often too complex to be easily captured in maps. Dialect continua, zones of pervasive bilingualism, overlapping lingua francas, areas …

Xinjiang, China: Ethnicity and Economic Development

By Martin W. Lewis | April 22, 2013 | 7 Comments

An impressive map of China’s per capita GDP by prefecture, reposted here, appeared in late 2012 on the website Skyscraper City, posted by user “Chrissib” Cicerone.  According to the map, the two poorest parts of China are in southern Gansu province, an area demographically dominated by Han Chinese, and in southwestern Xinjiang, an area demographically dominated by Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking, …

Politics and Ethnicity in Ecuador and Bolivia: Twins or Opposites?

By Martin W. Lewis | March 26, 2013 | 2 Comments

On the surface, Ecuador and Bolivia exhibit close political similarities. Both countries are led by popular presidents who pursue leftist agendas, taking on multinational corporations, enacting land redistribution, and opposing U.S. interests. In Ecuador, incumbent president Rafael Correa just won an overwhelming victory, besting second-place finisher Guillermo Lasso by a 34 percent margin. In the most recent Bolivian general election …

Geographical Patterns in the 2013 Swiss Election, Part I

By Martin W. Lewis | March 22, 2013 |

A three-part referendum held in Switzerland in early March received minimal press attention. Some media reports noted the passage of a measure to restrict executive compensation, but the family policy initiative was virtually ignored, as was the one on land-use planning. Today’s post briefly considers the family policy issue, whereas tomorrow’s will look at the executive compensation measure.
The Swiss election …

North American English Dialects: Bad Map – Or Fantastic Map?

By Martin W. Lewis | March 21, 2013 | 13 Comments

An internet search of “bad map” returns, among many other examples, Rick Aschmann’s map of North American English Dialects, reproduced here. Critics complain that the map is so busy and complicated as to be almost unreadable. But what the map lacks in grace and style, it makes up for in detail. On Aschmann’s own website, the map is large and …

Punjabi and the Problems of Mapping Dialect Continua

By Martin W. Lewis | March 11, 2013 | 15 Comments

The Wikipedia list of the world’s most widely spoken languages, by mother tongue, puts Punjabi in tenth place, with its roughly 100 million native speakers exceeding the figures given for German, French, Italian, Turkish, Persian and many other well-known languages. The Wikipedia article on the Punjabi language stresses its growing appeal, noting that, “The influence of Punjabi as a cultural …

Changing Italian Voting Patterns?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 27, 2013 | 3 Comments

The recently completed 2013 Italian General Election has been avidly discussed in the international media. The contest failed to produce a clear winning coalition in the senate, resulting in a hung parliament. It also saw the eclipse of the centrist, technocratic, austerity-oriented party of Prime Minister Mario Monti, which received only about 10 percent of the vote nationwide, as well …

Remaining Language Families and Geographical Language Groups

By Martin W. Lewis | January 27, 2013 | 2 Comments

Today’s post concludes the brief series on world maps of language families, based on abstracting information from a Wikipedia language-family map to make convenient classroom maps. The only remaining category on the map that is a legitimate language family, however, is Eskimo-Aleut. The others are actually geographical groupings of several different families.
With only around 100,000 people speaking its languages, Eskimo-Aleut …

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