Meet the New Language Empires

Illustration for article titled Meet the New Language Empires

The Economist decided to take Vladimir Putin's assertion that he had to protect Russian speakers literally and have reimagined a world organized by languages spoken. Unsurprisingly, we mostly end up with the old colonial empires. But isn't that a low price to pay for a place called "Vikingland"?


The Economist's article on this thought experiment is thoroughly snarky, and, in doing so, provides an excellent, common-sense debunking of Putin's claims of language protection:

A unified Arabia would stretch from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. There might be the odd squabble between Sunnis, Shias, Christians and adherents of archaic notions of nation; but united by a common tongue, the Arabs would be sure to get along fine, especially if they teamed up to smite the Persian-speakers on the other side of the Gulf. The two Koreas would become one, which might be a good thing—or not, depending on which system prevailed.

Since Hindi and Urdu are both a mutually intelligible mixture of Sanskrit and Persian, India could make a claim for Pakistan—and vice versa. The existence of nuclear weapons on either side would bring added spark to the debate over linguistic precedence.

Spend some time with the interactive map at The Economist.

h/t Janine Balekdjian


Dr Emilio Lizardo

It is my understanding that Finnish is nothing at all like Swedish, Norwegian or Danish.