140509_CBOX_LanguageMap

Illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker

Last month, I wrote about the fun and the pitfalls of viral maps, a feature that included 88 super-simple maps of my own creation. As a follow-up, I'm writing up short items on some of those maps, walking through how I created them and how they succumb (and hopefully overcome) the shortfalls of viral cartography.

One of the most interesting data sets for aspiring mapmakers is the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Among other things, that survey includes a detailed look at the languages spoken in American homes.

CBOX_BlattLanguage_1

Data source: Census Bureau American Community Survey. Map by Ben Blatt/Slate.

OK, that map is not too interesting. Now, let's remove Spanish from the mix.

CBOX_BlattLanguage_2

Data source: Census Bureau American Community Survey. Map by Ben Blatt/Slate.

Blatt_Update_New_Final

Here are a couple more language groups of interest. First, the Scandinavians. The census categorizes Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian as Scandinavian languages.

CBOX_BlattLanguage_Map4

Data source: Census Bureau American Community Survey. Map by Ben Blatt/Slate.

Next up, Indo-Aryan languages. For the purposes of this map, we consider Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, Bengali, Panjabi, Marathi, Nepali, and Sinhalese to fall into that category.

CBOX_BlattLanguage_5

Data source: Census Bureau American Community Survey. Map by Ben Blatt/Slate.

Finally, African languages. The choices here are Amharic, Berber, Chadic, Cushite, Sudanic, Nilotic, Nilo-hamitic, Nubian, Saharan, Khoisan, Swahili, Bantu, Mande, Fulani, Gur, Efik, Mbum, as well as "Kru, Ibo, Yoruba," which the census lists as a single language.

CBOX_BlattLanguage_6

Data source: Census Bureau American Community Survey. Map by Ben Blatt/Slate.

Correction, May 13, 2014: This article originally misspelled Arapaho in the map of most commonly spoken Native American languages. (Return.)