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Mar 21, 2006: Lovely History Graphics

Dan Roam recently pointed me to HistoryShots, which creates and sells "history-related informational graphics that tell stories about subjects, time periods and events.". Great stuff for history geeks like me who have waded into the world of information design. I was especially grabbed by the histories of US political parties.

What I'd really love to see are visualizations of the historical lineage of languages. Or of human migrations and the connections between ethnic groups, of which we'll know quite a lot soon thanks to genetic genealogy.

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Comment: Prentiss Riddle (Mar 21, 2006)

Very cool. I'm with you that something about the history of language would make a great poster. It would be a challenging one to design, as the simple family tree of languages I learned in school is turning out to be something of an oversimplification. Creoles, sprachbunds ("Sprachbünde") and other forms of intense language contact now seem to be more common and more important than linguists once thought.

Cf. John McWhorter's "The Power of Babel" http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/006052085X/

Comment: Lou (Mar 21, 2006)

Good book!

Yes, it would be hard. Maybe McWhorther could commission something from HistoryShots?

Comment: Edward Vielmetti (Mar 21, 2006)

Lou - I have a 1987 Rand McNally "Atlas of World History" that has some really good history graphics, mostly overlaid onto real maps.

There is a nice history of languages chart in the American Heritage Dictionary, but like Prentiss says it's overly a single family starting with an ur-language and branching outwards and not recognizing how modern languages get a lot of vermischung along the way.

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