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231 - Praise the Lord and Pass the Dictionary!

January 7, 2008, 3:09 PM


This delicious map is the Europa Polyglotta, published in 1730 by Gottfried Hensel (or Henselius, after the contemporary fasion of latinising surnames). I’ve managed to piece together only very little information on its origin and background because I found it on a Ukranian website, describing it in an alphabet (not to mention language) I don’t understand.

Which is ironic because the full Latin title of the map is: Europa Polyglotta, Linguarum Genealogiam exhibens, una cum Literis, Scribendique modis, Omnium Gentium. Which I can translate, sort of: ‘Multilingual Europe, showing the genealogy of the languages, together with the alphabets and modes of writing of all peoples’.

In the upper left corner, the map shows severfal alphabets (left to right):
• “the Scythians, born of the Hebrews”
• the Greeks
• the Marcomanni
• Runes
• Moeso-Gothic
• Picto-Hibernic

In the upper right corner are shown Characteri Rutenicae Linguae, i.e. the Russian alphabet.

The lower left corner shows following alphabets next to each other (left to right):
• Latin
• German
• Anglo-Saxon

At the bottom, there are several other alphabets of the
• Hunnish,
• Slavonic (Cyrillic),
• Glagolitic (Illyric) and
• Etruscan (Eugubina) languages.

The map itself attempts to show the concordances and differences between all the languages spoken in Europe by spelling out the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer in each of them.

Some notable facts about this ethnolinguistic map of Europe.
• The language areas have remained remarkably stable, except where German has lost terrain in Eastern Europe (in itself a relatively recent occurrence, and solely due to the Second World War).
• Another area that has disappeared, though is the Arabic (or Berber) portion of Iberia – the Spanish completed their Reconquista in 1492, was ‘Mauritanian’ still spoken there almost 250 years later?
• Turkish is mentioned in what is now Bulgaria, still home to a sizable Turkish minority. But no Bulgarian at that time?
• Apparently, ‘Barbarian Greek’ was still spoken in Asia Minor in the mid-18th century.
• Tartaria is subscribed with the legend Vocibus Teutonicis et Sclavonicis mixta – ‘With mixed German and Slavic languages’. I don’t believe that could have corresponded with the reality of that time.

It would be interesting to hear from native speakers how much their version of the prayer has deviated from this mid-18th century form.

Click on the map to maximise; map found here.


231 - Praise the Lord and P...

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