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A professor at UCL, Oliver O’Brien, has compiled data of linguistic variety in London to create a tube map of languages

The map, showing the second most common languages of given areas outside of English, takes into account language usage within 200m of each tube stop to create a visualisation of the linguistic diversity of London.

Oliver, a researcher in geovisualisation and web mapping in the department of geography, emphasises the separation that must be made between linguistic and cultural diversity – South Asian origins, for example, correlates strongly with language uniformity, whilst an African origin does not correlate strongly with a unified language. 

Modern languages and linguistics students should see these diagrams of indicative of the spread of languages within cultures, while geography applicants should take note on the way information is visually materialised, and the importance of linguistic clusters emerging as an arguable form of ethnic solidarity (https://www.russellsage.org/publications/ethnic-solidarity-economic-survival). 

Interesting results emerge from the map, particularly the clustering of language groups along tube lines. The DLR, for example, has a very distinct cluster of Bengali speakers separate from other languages, and then further down the tube line, Bengali has no presence and the line is overwhelmingly Lithuanian. Similarly, the Bakerloo line shows distinct clusters of highly concentrated languages along sections of the line.

Perhaps Turnpike Lane should be revered as the highlight of this study – with 16 languages being spoken within 200m of the tube station. Economics, HSPS and PPE applicants would do well to think on why this diversity might emerge in an area like Turnpike Lane, and look to Oliver’s other map that relates tube stop location to occupation (http://vis.oobrien.com/tube/?zoom=14&lat=51.52269&lon=-0.1414&layers=BTTFT#occupation). 

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