Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
Curated by Seth Dixon
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Are Americans trashing the English language?

"Are American's trashing the English language? The Economists language expert, Lane Greene, knows a thing or two about English. Lane is a fan of words, lots of words, and Lane is an American living in London. He's become accustomed to British English slang. But Lane often hears Britons complain that there are too many American words and expressions creeping into British English, these are called Americanisms. British writer Matthew Engel can't stand Americanisms being used in Britain and even wrote a book about it. But are Americanisms trashing British English?"

Seth Dixon's insight:

This video touches on important cultural and spatial dynamics of the linguistic change impacting the world's current lingua other words, this is incredibly relevant to human geography. 


Tags: languagecultureworldwide, English, diffusion,


Matt Manish's curator insight, March 8, 2018 12:00 PM
I found this video very enjoyable to watch and I learned a lot more about how British people feel about the American language, especially in their own culture. I knew that American English and British English had some small differences with the spelling of some words and differences in some terms for the same object such as lift and elevator. But I didn't realize how some American phrases or "Americanisms" have crept into the British English language and are causing some English citizens to be upset about it.
In response to this information, I have to side with Lane Greene's opinion towards the end of this video. The fact that "Americanisms" are creeping into the British English language is the sign of a healthy and developing language. It means that one language that is being affected by another language because it has a global reach throughout the world. This is a positive thing that shouldn't be feared because as we can see from history, languages change over time and tend to never stay the same.
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How the letters of the alphabet got their names

How the letters of the alphabet got their names | Geography Education |
There seems to be little predictability to the English names for the letters of the alphabet, to say nothing of the names of letters in other languages. Some begin with an e-as-in-egg sound (eff, ell); some end in an ee sound (tee, dee); and others have no obvious rhyme or reason to them at all. How did they get that way?


Tags: language, culturehistorical, English.

Abby Lamarre's curator insight, January 21, 4:25 PM
Share your insight
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Why Don’t We All Speak the Same Language?

Why Don’t We All Speak the Same Language? | Geography Education |
There are 7,000 languages spoken on Earth. What are the costs — and benefits — of our modern-day Tower of Babel?
Seth Dixon's insight:

These two podcasts are great mainstream looks at issues that filled with cultural geography content.  So many languages on Earth is clearly inefficient (the EU spends $1 billion per year on translation), and yet, linguistic diversity is such a rich part of humanity's cultural heritage.  Listen to the first episode, Why Don't We All Speak the Same Language? as well as the follow-up episode, What Would Be the Best Universal Language?


Tags: languagecultureworldwide, English, regions, diffusiontechnology.

Andrew Kahn's curator insight, November 4, 2017 8:13 PM
Culture speaks louder than words
Laurie Ruggiero's curator insight, May 29, 2018 4:48 PM
Unit 3
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The languages the world is trying to learn, according to Duolingo

The languages the world is trying to learn, according to Duolingo | Geography Education |

If you own a smartphone and are trying to learn a language, you probably have Duolingo. English is far and away the most dominant, with a caveat: For some learners, English is the only language Duolingo offers with translation into their native tongue. That doesn’t change the fact of universal interest in English, though, which Duolingo notes is studied by 53% of its users. Things get more interesting when you look at the second-most popular language by country. There French takes the lead, followed by Spanish, German, and Portuguese.


Tags: language, colonialismtechnology, diffusion, culture, English.

Seth Dixon's insight:

Questions to Ponder: What role do colonial history and modern economics play in shaping this linguistic data? How does migration influence patterns in bilingualism?  What is a lingua franca?

Madison Murphy's curator insight, March 13, 2017 3:15 PM
This article "The Languages The World Is Trying To Learn, According To Duolingo" relates to language in Human Geography because it is an app that describes how languages are being spread but also how countries are picking a certain language to be able to communicate with, which is English.  Countries are picking English because they are needing a language to be able to communicate with other countries.
Hailey Austin's curator insight, March 13, 2017 8:45 PM
This reflects to what we are learning in  class because  the articles talking about language. It's talking about how we all really have one language in come in all around the world. I think this is a good idea to have when your working with other countries or you are visiting them.
Hailey Austin's curator insight, April 6, 2017 3:09 PM
This relates to my class because its talking about religion. It states that in many different parts in the world it is very dominate  to learn English. But whats more interesting is that French is right after us. It talks about why English is so popular. Which is because its a language you can use when you visit places and you will be able to communicate. I think this article is interesting  because it is talking about how we are the most popular language but its one of the most complicated one to learn. I also would understand why English is most learned because a lot of people want to visit Florida or even move their.
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This map shows where 42 of the greatest American novels took place

This map shows where 42 of the greatest American novels took place | Geography Education |
Where did your favorite books happen?



Donna Farren's curator insight, December 29, 2015 2:31 PM

This is fun and cool!  Great way to get in cross curricular lessons!

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Do We Talk Funny? 51 American Colloquialisms

Do We Talk Funny? 51 American Colloquialisms | Geography Education |
American English has a rich history of regionalisms — which sometimes tell us a lot about where we come from.

Tags: languageculture, English.

Fred Issa's curator insight, October 5, 2015 4:14 PM

I found this article most interesting, having lived in RI, NJ, GA, IN, MD, and TX. After awhile, you will start to pick up certain words, while dropping other similar words that I have used all of my life. The words and phrases both tend to change from one state to another. Read the article, it is enlightening. Fred Issa,

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Lindström gets Swedish double-dot umlaut back

Lindström gets Swedish double-dot umlaut back | Geography Education |

"The state transportation authority relies on federal guidelines that outline what it can put on signs, and these rules say signs must use only 'standard English characters, so when we replaced the sign, we didn’t put the umlaut in.'  On Wednesday, the state’s governor put his foot down: The dots were coming back."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The cultural landscape isn't just passively 'there.'  It is purposefully created, defended, protected and resisted by national, regional and local actors.  This example might seem laughable to the national media, but this was a serious matter to those locally that pride themselves on the town's Swedish heritage.  Many want to preserve it's distinctively Swedish characteristics as a part of it's sense of place, but also it's economic strategy to appeal to tourists. 

Tags: place, language, toponyms, culturetourism, English, landscape.

Julie Cidell's curator insight, April 18, 2015 9:56 AM

Missing umlauts aren't just a problem on the Internet.

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10 American English Words and Phrases British Expats Eventually Adopt

10 American English Words and Phrases British Expats Eventually Adopt | Geography Education |
As a British expat who has lived and worked in the U.S. for over five years, I remain very much in favor of embracing the various wonderful nuances this country has to offer. However, there was one aspect of my move that—during the initial settling-in period—I secretly feared: the gradual Americanization of my vocabulary.
Seth Dixon's insight:

While this list was created for English speakers in the UK, I will invert the list to show some terms that Americans rarely use, even if we understand their meaning: rubbish, mobile, motorway, petrol, car park, you lot, maths, pavement, football and fizzy drink.  If this interests you so will this list of 10 British insults that American don't understand

Tags: language, culture, English, UK.

tentuseful's comment, January 17, 2015 4:16 AM
Thats stunning
Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, January 23, 2015 12:07 PM

unit 3

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23 maps and charts on language

23 maps and charts on language | Geography Education |

"Did you know that Swedish has more in common with Hindi than it does with Finnish? Explaining everything within the limits of the world is probably too ambitious a goal for a list like this. But here are 23 maps and charts that can hopefully illuminate small aspects of how we manage to communicate with one another."

Tags: language, culture, English, infographic.

Rich Schultz's curator insight, November 26, 2014 1:40 PM

Mapping of languages...

Isabella El-Hage's curator insight, March 19, 2015 11:15 AM

This article links with Unit Three through "language and communication". These 23 maps range from the history of languages, which languages connect with which, common languages in certain places, different phrases used in the same country for the same thing, and more. Looking at maps to spatially see language helps when trying to understand how the world communicates. One of the maps that I found interesting was the "New York tweets by language". It shows how diverse that city is, and how people are still preserving their native language in a English prominent country.  

Avery Liardon's curator insight, March 23, 2015 9:00 PM

Unit 2:

Shows how many languages are actually closely related. Whether or not they sound the same or are located in similar regions, many share the same origins. For example: many words in Spanish and English are the same due to their similar roots. 

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The Literary United States: A Map of the Best Book for Every State

The Literary United States: A Map of the Best Book for Every State | Geography Education |

"Two weeks ago, we published a literary map of Brooklyn, highlighting the books we felt best represented the neighborhoods in which they were set. Compiling the list of books for that map had us thinking about what it means for a story to not just be from a place, but also of it, and why it is that some places have an abundance of literary riches (we’re looking at you, American South), while others, well, don’t. There are those stories that so beautifully evoke a time and a place and a way of life that it becomes close to impossible to separate the literary perception of a place from its reality—one winds up informing the other.  All [books on this states list] are literary in voice and spirit; every last one will let you understand a time and place in a more profound way than you maybe thought possible.


BI Media Specialists's curator insight, October 27, 2014 10:03 AM

This looks neat! How many of these books have you read?


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European word translator

European word translator | Geography Education |
Translate any word from English to more than 30 other European languages, on a map
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is an incredible resource to visualize the linguistic similarities between European languages all on one interactive map.  Just type in a word or phrase as it will translate it for you and place the results on the map.  I just found this, but I think it still belongs on my list of favorite resources.   

Questions to Ponder: Do you see any regions forming?  How does language impact the diffusion of people, ideas and goods?  Hoe do you think these languages diffused?   

Tags: language, culture, English diffusion.

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, November 5, 2014 8:19 PM

unit 3

Claire Law's curator insight, April 26, 2015 2:30 AM

Lots of fun to visualise linguistic similarities and variability across a region.

Sally Spoon's curator insight, May 31, 2015 7:33 PM

Amazing how many use hamburger as hamburger.

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Does English still borrow words from other languages?

Does English still borrow words from other languages? | Geography Education |

"English language has 'borrowed' words for centuries. But is it now lending more than it's taking, asks Philip Durkin, deputy chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. "

Knowledge of what is being borrowed, and from where, provides an invaluable insight into the international relations of the English language.  Today English borrows words from other languages with a truly global reach.

Amanda Morgan's comment, September 13, 2014 6:08 PM
Words of the English language were borrowed from other numerous languages. Foreign words will continue to be introduced to the language with the growth of globalization
Amanda Morgan's curator insight, September 18, 2014 10:51 AM

Words of the English language were borrowed from other numerous languages. Foreign words will continue to be introduced to the language with the growth of globalization

Chris Plummer's curator insight, January 12, 2015 11:44 PM

Summary- This article explains how the English language is using many words from other languages. Leg, sky, take , they are all examples of these words borrowed.  In this example these languages are from the Scandinavian language. While we may not realize it, we use words from languages every single day. English is like a melting pot of mixed languages.


Insight- In Unit 3 one thing we study is where languages come from. Languages come from many places and ofter are similar to some, and very different from others. Many languages such as ours, "borrow" words from other languages to be in out own. This shows that the diffusion of many languages mix or overlap a little.

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17th century London visualized

"Six students from De Montfort University have created a stellar 3D representation of 17th century London, as it existed before The Great Fire of 1666. The three-minute video provides a realistic animation of Tudor London, and particularly a section called Pudding Lane where the fire started. As Londonist notes, “Although most of the buildings are conjectural, the students used a realistic street pattern [taken from historical maps] and even included the hanging signs of genuine inns and businesses” mentioned in diaries from the period."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This video original spotted in an Open Culture article is a real gem for any historical geographer with a love for London.

Tags:  virtual tours, EnglishLondon, urban, historical, visualization.

Tony Aguilar's curator insight, November 8, 2013 2:53 AM

London in the 1700's was a chacterised by buildings that were very tighly packed together with obviously little fire code. There buildings are similiar to other communities thrughout Europe and areas in Switzerland. This remake of the past gives the student an animated journey into an  England that once was before the fire. It appears preindustrial revolution and shows how the economy was run by individual businesses and markets, its always interesting to look into the past and see the way the same cities exist today. Most importantly we learn and have the best fire codes possible

Steven Flis's curator insight, December 16, 2013 11:24 AM

For someone who loves history as much as i do this was a real treat. It honest makes you feel as if you could hop on a plane and travel there right now. Also as someone who has walked the streets of london you can see glimpses of these times within the architechture and the city planning. Great video really makes me nostalgic for a time in which was way before myself.

Mrs. Karnowski's curator insight, August 27, 2014 6:41 AM

2G Contemporary Period

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English--History and Connotations

"What is the difference between 'a hearty welcome' and 'a cordial reception'? In a brief, action-packed history of the English language, Kate Gardoqui explains why these semantically equal phrases evoke such different images."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This TED-ED video (and lesson) shows how the connotations of English words often times depend on the linguistic root (sweat--Germanic, perspire--Latin). English has obviously changed much over the years, but this other TED-ED video (and lesson) also shows some good language family information and traces it back to proto-Indo-European roots.


Tags: languagecultureEnglishTED, video.

Matt Manish's curator insight, February 16, 2018 1:19 PM
It is very interesting to see how far the English language has come and how much is has changed over the past 1600 years. Adding to that it is intriguing to see what other languages had an influence on English. I knew that German and English were very similar languages which made sense that German had a large influence on the English language. Although, it did take me by surprise that French has made quite an impact on English as well. Also, that royal Englishmen spoke French for three centuries. That piece of information shocked me since France and England have had such a historic rivalry that lasted for centuries. Overall, I enjoyed this video and the border maps helped me to better understand the evolution of the English language.
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English--Origins and Roots

When we talk about ‘English’, we often think of it as a single language. But what do the dialects spoken in dozens of countries around the world have in common with each other, or with the writings of Chaucer? Claire Bowern traces the language from the present day back to its ancient roots, showing how English has evolved through generations of speakers.
Seth Dixon's insight:

English has obviously changed much over the years, but this video (and lesson) also shows some good language family information and traces it back to proto-Indo-European, using the English as the main example.  This other TED-ED video (and lesson) shows how the connotations of English words often times depend on the linguistic root (sweat--Germanic, perspire--Latin).   


Tags: languagecultureEnglishTED, video.

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Mapping Reading Preferences

Mapping Reading Preferences | Geography Education |
We took a look at how some of your favorite genres play out across the country.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Audible is one of the world's largest audio book distributors and they have recently mapped out their customers buying patterns at the state level, looking at nine genres.  


Questions to Ponder: What patterns do you see in this set of maps?  What cultural and economic factors help to explain the spatial patterns that you see? 


Tagsmapping, cultureEnglish.

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Reading the world in 196 books

Reading the world in 196 books | Geography Education |

"I set myself the challenge of trying to read a book from every country (well, all 195 UN-recognised states plus former UN member Taiwan) in a year to find out what I was missing.

With no idea how to go about this beyond a sneaking suspicion that I was unlikely to find publications from nearly 200 nations on the shelves of my local bookshop, I decided to ask the planet’s readers for help. I created a blog called A Year of Reading the World and put out an appeal for suggestions of titles that I could read in English."


Tags: languagecultureworldwide, English.

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English and Its Undeserved Good Luck: Lingua Franca

English and Its Undeserved Good Luck: Lingua Franca | Geography Education |

"In my post last week I cited a few ways in which English is unsuitable as a global language, and mentioned that its being one anyway is attributable at least in part to undeserved luck. Of course, it wasn’t all luck."


Tags: language, colonialismdiffusion, culture, English.

Seth Dixon's insight:

Additionally, here is an article explaining why Mandarin won't become a lingua franca in the near future. 

jorden harris's curator insight, March 10, 2016 10:02 AM
the fact that out of all of the languages that could have been a lingua franca is suprising J.H.
Logan scully's curator insight, March 10, 2016 10:13 AM
It is astouding to me that out of all those languages that could have been a lingua franca.-L.S.
Cohen Adkins's curator insight, March 10, 2016 10:18 AM
In my opinion i believe that English should be used and learned by every country since most of the world already uses it.It would be more convenient for others to speak English however people should also be required to learn a side language and not just for college. -C.A
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Linguistic Geography: My Fair Lady

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a most decidedly dated reference for pop culture, but a great movie for making explicit the idea that the way we speak is connected to where we've lived (also a good clip to show class differences as well as gender norms). The clip highlights many principles and patterns for understanding the geography of languages.

Tags: Language, class, gender, culture, historical, London, unit 3 culture and place.

Mrs. B's curator insight, May 2, 2015 9:03 PM

LOVE this clip! #Unit 3

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Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape

Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape | Geography Education |
For decades the leading nature writer has been collecting unusual words for landscapes and natural phenomena – from aquabob to zawn. It’s a lexicon we need to cherish in an age when a junior dictionary finds room for ‘broadband’ but has no place for ‘bluebell’

Tags: language, culture, English, toponyms, landscape.

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MLA Language Map

MLA Language Map | Geography Education |

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a great ESRI-powered portal to information and spatial data about languages in the United States.

Tags: language, culture, English, ESRI, USA.

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7 of the Best Dialect Quizzes

7 of the Best Dialect Quizzes | Geography Education |
If you're feeling particularly nationalistic, or just want to see how consistently you speak like your friends and neighbors, here are all the dialect quizzes that I could find. Find out what your dialect most resembles, and, in many cases, help science at the same time!

Tags: language, culture, English.

Julia Kang's curator insight, November 6, 2014 8:42 PM

Enligsh dialects looks interesting! If I have a chance later, I want to know more about it :)

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, November 12, 2014 11:07 AM

Take a few of these quizzes and be ready to share your reaction to your results!

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A tour of the British Isles in accents

Got the audio here - The person doing the voice is Andrew Jack who is a dialect coach.

Tags: language, culture, English, UK.

Sascha Humphrey's curator insight, April 6, 2014 4:33 AM

He's really quite good, and the seamless change of dialect is quite impressive!

Melissa Marshall's curator insight, April 9, 2014 10:19 PM

This is a really interesting video for understanding regional dialect differences!

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Lexical Distance Among the Languages of Europe

Lexical Distance Among the Languages of Europe | Geography Education |

  This chart shows the lexical distance — that is, the degree of overall vocabulary divergence — among the major languages of Europe. The size of each circle represents the number of speakers ...


And yes, English has its deepest roots in German...the French aspects were tacked on after the Norman Conquest.

ethanrobert's curator insight, March 19, 2014 10:20 AM

This is a wonderful map that truly shows language families and their roots. In Europe, I was rather surprised when I seen that the Romance branch was much larger than that of the Germanic. All of the ancient Germanic groups such as the Jutes, Angols, and the Saxons were well versed in combat. Considering they conquered much of Western Europe, how is it that the Romance group is bigger than the Germanic? Also, in Eastern Europe, the Albanian language has no reason to exist. In a region dominated by the Slavic group with no environmental barriers, the Albanian language should not exist.~Ethan.

Arya Okten's curator insight, March 27, 2014 10:33 PM

Unit II

Ness Crouch's curator insight, March 28, 2014 8:43 PM

This isn't my normal area of interest but I found this fascinating!

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Are Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki and Na'vi real languages?

View full lesson on TED-ED: What do Game of Thrones' Dothraki, Avatar's Na'vi, Star Trek's Klingon and LOTR's Elvish have in common? They are all fantasy constructed languages, or conlangs. Conlangs have all the delicious complexities of real languages: a high volume of words, grammar rules, and room for messiness and evolution. John McWhorter explains why these invented languages captivate fans long past the rolling credits.

Seth Dixon's insight:

This TED ED video lesson brings up some important questions to ponder for cultural geography (and uses some popular fantasy/science fiction examples to do it).   For languages that are spoken by actual populations, they often 'borrow' vocabulary from other languages, making some ask the question, can loan words damage language integrity? 


Tags: language, culture.

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