Map Critique: Language Landscape

Thinking Machine’s ‘The language landscape of the Philippines in 4 maps’
August 10, 2016

This map is a unique piece of information for anyone looking into what diversity looks like in a frame as well as a global perspective. Though my overall final project is about migration and its effects within the countries involved, I have a personal and well-rooted tie to the language in the Philippines. Born and raised in Metro Manila, Tagalog was the first language I grasped. My mother’s a master at both English and Tagalog, like many well-educated Filipinos. This page highlights how diverse language is within its own land versus the rest of the world. I was led to dive into this map because it reflects the landscape and islands of this country. With close to 200 languages and dialects, how does the country manage to communicate? What is the history of changing and evolving languages? What borders or concerns are raised, if any?

These maps lead to other subjects which I find effective: history, culture, data and information visualization, etc. I think the visual choices complimented the data very well. It displayed the ‘depth’ within every region through reliable numbers and source outcomes. Listing this information as a ‘language landscape’ doesn’t identify generations, physical landscape, gender, or age highlighted in the map. This can lead to other questions related to other research projects.

Gathering numbers and stories to reflect a movement has been a tough process. However, I find myself naturally talking about global movement, individuality in a global image, and patterns in my own community. Barkada is a brand new collective of Filipino students at The New School who are changing how Filipinos are represented through modern globalization. As a Filipino-American, I think a collection of students with diverse backgrounds in the Philippines emphasizes how different the Philippines is compared to many surrounding Asian countries today.

“If you were to randomly pick two people from anywhere in the Philippines, there’s a roughly 76% to 84% chance that they grew up speaking different languages.”

The Philippines history is deeply embedded within its language. Consequences are apparent in lack of information and damaged relations. Language isn’t endangered when it has a low population speaking, but when parents stop using it when they communicate with their children at home.

“”It is not a coincidence that the most discriminated indigenous people in the archipelago speak in languages that are the most endangered, because a long history of abuses has reduced them to indigency, semi-slavery, and even alcoholism.” … Filipinos cannot access the original sources of their history before 1898 because those are mostly written in Spanish.” – Business World – Unfortunately, this makes the Philippines unique compared to the rest of the world due to lack of accessibility to the past due to colonization from Spain.

– Greenberg Linguistic Diversity Index — estimates a place’s linguistic richness on a scale of 0 to 1 (a place which every person speaks a different language would be 1, a country in which every person speaks the same language would be 0)

– 187 individual languages in the Philippines
– 4 extinct, 183 alive
– 175 indigenous, 8 non-indigenous
– 72 developing, 14 in trouble, 11 are dying

– 0.84 / 84% of 1

…according to Ethnologue

– 2010 Philippine Census figures around 76 % – Does one source lack correct information? What variables contribute to the outcome?

– Map was put together to celebrate all 187 languages for Buwan ng Wika (Language Month, every August)

– 6/10 speak languages other than Tagalog

As you scroll through the 4 maps on the webpage, the ‘richness’ or ‘density’ is measured in colors and region-specific Diversity Index rate and top two spoken languages

Reasons for Diverse Language Landscape
– 7,000+ islands, jungles and mountain landscapes are extreme
– Resistance of the Spanish colonizers
– Lingua franca – (i.e. Taglish, Spanglish)