Languages of the Caucasus 4.0
In February 2012, GeoCurrents ran a series of posts on the Caucasus. As part of that project, we set out to map the linguistic mosaic of the region, in collaboration with Stanford cartographer Jake Coolidge. Drawing on previously available ethnic and linguistic maps, supplemented by demographic data from other sources, we were able to create two linguistic maps: one representing the whole Caucasus area and the other zooming in on the particularly linguistically diverse region of Dagestan.
The resulting maps were subjected to “crowd-editing”: inspired by the idea of “crowdsourcing”, we asked informed readers to comment on the maps and to suggest corrections. More than a dozen readers answered our call, writing both in the Disqus comments section and on our Facebook page with corrections, suggestions for amendments, and links to additional maps to draw on. We are deeply grateful for all those responses! While visualization of some of the demographic data—especially because of widespread individual and communal multilingualism—proved difficult, we were able to incorporate most of the corrections suggested by our readers. The newly revised maps were posted in June 2012.
But comments and suggestions kept coming in, so after two more rounds of revisions we are now ready to release Language Maps of the Caucasus 4.0. As with the previous editions of these maps, our goal was to accurately represent the spatial distribution of various linguistic groups. We have used the most recent census data available , as well as comments by our readers from the Caucasus region, to capture the wholesale migrations, episodes of ethnic cleansing, and population exchanges that have changed the situation on the ground. Careful mapping of smaller linguistic groups, especially in Dagestan, has proved particularly instructive, as it allowed us to represent visually the correlation of language and topography, something that has not been done before. Having Jake Coolidge on board for this project was especially valuable, as he has employed modern cartography techniques to overlay the linguistic map on a detailed topographic representation. Finally, a careful use of the color scheme allowed us to demonstrate the family relatedness of the various languages spoken in this region, known justifiably as “the mountain of tongues”.
In the future, the GeoCurrents team plans to create additional maps of linguistic, ethnic, and religious groups in various regions of the world. We therefore welcome suggestions for maps that could be particularly useful to our readers, especially to those teaching the relevant subjects at various levels.
« Disputed Ruins and Phoenician Heritage in...
Renewable Electricity Production Mapped »