How does this visual representation give us a different sense of meaning than a traditional map?
“This linguistic map paints an alternative map of Europe, displaying the language families that populate the continent, and the lexical distance between the languages. The closer that distance, the more words they have in common. The further the distance, the harder the mutual comprehension.
“The map shows the language families that cover the continent: large, familiar ones like Germanic, Italic-Romance and Slavic; smaller ones like Celtic, Baltic and Uralic; outliers like Semitic and Turkic; and isolates – orphan languages, without a family: Albanian and Greek.”
Here is a site with some additional posts and discussions of related issues by the creator of this image.
“What is it about maps that we find so fascinating? Ever since the Babylonians scratched two parallel lines and a circle — representing the Euphrates River and their walled capital — on a clay tablet almost 3,000 years ago, we humans have been producing flat spatial imagery to locate our place in the world. Maps anchor us, give coherence to our environment, help make visual sense of otherwise intangible realities. The most skillfully done maps, moreover, can be thrilling to look at, elevating cartography into art.”
“The Polynesians, scattered as they are over islands across the central and southern Pacific Ocean, are master navigators who tracked their way over a huge expanses of ocean without any of the complex mechanical aids we associate with sea navigation. They didn’t have the astrolabe or the sextant, the compass or the chronometer. They did however have aids of a sort, which though seemingly humble, were in fact the repositories of an extremely complex kind of knowledge. They are called Rebbelibs, Medos. and Mattangs.”
Below is a documentary about the Polynesians as well.