We need a few hundred Voronoi diagrams

Monday, April 07, 2014

Remember this post from 2011? I do. It's about an interesting thread on HTLAL where a user named nway, one of our friends here as well, did some interesting statistical analysis on the present and future value of languages.

Also do you remember this post from 2009? I do. It's an article about Mpumalanga in South Africa, which is next to Mozambique and where Portuguese is naturally a more important language to know than in most other parts of South Africa. Taking a look at countries and states at a local level, especially their nearest neighbors, is very important in determining the future of language education in any country.

And now to Voronoi diagrams. These show the nearest something to somewhere. For example, the country that is nearest to you when you are in...Frankfurt, or somewhere else. These maps have been very popular on /r/mapporn recently. For example, this one of Germany.

It shows that if you are in Frankfurt for example, France is the nearest place to you. If you are in München, it's Austria. Berlin, it's Poland.

Here's another one with Canada.

France is there because of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

If I had a team of ten or so people at my beck and call, I would design the following map:

First I would generate a world map similar to those maps that show countries by GDP size, but less ugly, and have it done by region as well since regions often have separate languages. Languages with certain international prestige, such as frequently being the official language of important groups (UN, NATO, EU, international airports, etc.) may be amplified even further beyond their GDP.

Then I would colour-code these regions by language.

Then I would make them all into a Voronoi diagrams, showing which language, and its GDP, is closest to you based on where you stand.

And because there's no way I would attempt something like this on my own, I hope somebody reads this and decides to take the time to do just that.


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