The Uncanny Valley

Notes on art, culture and preservation

Map of the Day: Languages in Iberia

leave a comment »

A history of languages in southwestern Europe, from AD 1000 to the present (click on the image if the time lapse doesn’t work):

We know Castilian better as Spanish, but it’s hardly the only language of Spain. One millennium ago, it had one of the smallest influences on the peninsula, a smaller area than even Basque. As the rise of little Castilian and the retreat of big bad Arabic reveal, linguistic influence and military might often go together.


  • The only non-Romance languages on the map are Arabic & Mozarabic, Basque (a language isolate), and German, of which only the latter belongs to the Indo-European family.
  • Langues d’Oïl refers to the various languages closely related to French. Of course French existed before 1800, but it did not have official clout across the country until relatively recent. The same goes with Italian, which became a national language only after unification.
  • Diagonal lines indicate official status within political boundaries. Castilian prevails in society even where people widely speak Galician or Catalan.
  • Galico-Portuguese remains quite stable from 1350 onward.
  • Arabic was still being spoken widely enough on the continent as late as 1600.
  • Interesting to see the influences on Sardinia, especially how Catalan finds its way in to a tiny area (Alghero, I believe).

Source: GNUware, of course. Maybe not completely accurate, but good as a general guide.

Written by cwmote

February 3, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: