Mapping Language in the Age of GIS

Michael F. Goodchild

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Language mapping is a long-established cartographic practice, producing visual displays that are esthetically attractive and detailed but not replicable. They vary in scale, the mapped set of languages or language groups, and the strategy used to create a continuum of language. Today the assumption of a single dominant language over an extended and contiguous area of the Earth's surface, which underlies this traditional approach to language mapping, is challenged by largescale migration and the increasingly diverse nature of urban environments. The advent and growth of GIS over the past half century has been disruptive of many practices associated with maps and geospatial data. A process is described for the replicable production of language maps from raw data. Three use cases are identified and used to demonstrate the difficulties of addressing them with language maps and the ease with which they can be addressed using GIS. Many other more sophisticated use cases are readily addressed by GIS. The distribution of language in contemporary London provides a sharp contrast to traditional practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of the Changing World Language Map
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9783030024383
ISBN (Print)9783030024376
StatePublished - Oct 22 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Geographic information system
  • Map projections
  • Tobler's first law of geography
  • Use cases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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