The Schultink lecture during the LOT Summer School 2019 will be delivered by Dr Asya Pereltsvaig (Santa Clara University)
Mapping Languages: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” of Linguistic Cartography
In teaching linguistics, especially introductory courses such as “Languages of the World”, one often faces a need for good language maps. Besides specialized maps, depicting isoglosses for specific linguistic features, dialectal continua or language change, there are plenty of maps—both printed and digital—that claim to show simply which languages are spoken where. In this lecture, I will focus on such maps depicting spatial distribution of languages in several regions of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. I will consider the goals, issues and challenges of linguistic cartography, centering on the Caucasus Language Map Project (joint work with geographer Martin W. Lewis and cartographer Jake Coolidge). Then, I will discuss how bad language maps can lead to faulty linguistic theories. Finally, I will use the example of Ukraine to reveal how bad language maps can acquire a life of their own and can feed into warped political narratives.
During every LOT school, one of the international instructors delivers the Schultink Lecture. The lecture is named after Henk Schultink (1924-2017), who played a central role in founding LOT.