Friday, March 18, 2022

Language Map of the British Isles, 1881

This map was posted on Facebook this week, on the We The Irish - Podcast page (click here). No source is given for the atlas this is from, but the key bottom left says that stats are from the 1881 census, and also the 1897 work of EG Ravenstein in On the Celtic languages in the British Isles: a statistical survey, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (1879). As has been mentioned here over the years a few times, the language answer as self-completed by respondents on the 1901 and 1911 census, which has been quite recently visualised and mapped by Barry Griffin, is way out of kilter in east Ulster.

None of these historical administrative ventures or mapping projects allowed for Scots being distinct from English, so its linguistic existence gets lost, divided, or even misinterpreted. We have a trilingual society, but for centuries we've only had a bilingual bureaucracy.

This map of a decade earlier is from Wikipedia Commons, dated 1871.