The map, the group and language ideology

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This article chronicles the history of mapmaking, showing how the way maps develop is in tandem with the development of patterns of group identity. The central question concerns our ways of conceptualising the physical world and whether these feed into language ideology, that set of beliefs, values and attitudes drawn from our socio-political environment, which directs, constrains and moulds our language behaviour. Benedict Anderson noted the parallel development of mapping, identity and language practices in nation building. My argument here is that it is also possible to see this association in the European medieval world and that there are some indicators that such co-occurrence is discernible in mapmaking, identity formation and language practices in post-national settings. As ever in the social sciences, it would be inappropriate to claim clear cause and effect. However, it is possible to demonstrate that changes in world view co-occur with changes in language behaviour. It may, therefore, be legitimate to hypothesise that the view of ourselves that maps give us and the identities we assume as part of groups thus constructed play some part in the choice of languages we willingly acquire and speak.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-98
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of World Languages
Issue number2
Early online date7 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2014


  • language
  • ideology
  • identity
  • maps
  • groups


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