Twitter Map Shows London’s Languages

Click image for zoomable version.

This map shows the locations of 3.3 million geolocated tweets in the London area during the summer of 2012. That’s impressive in its own right, but the points are also colour-coded to show which language was used in the tweet (as determined by Google Translate).

The grey foundation of the map is formed from the majority of tweets, which were unsurprisingly in English. Many follow roads and train lines as people tweet while travelling. Other nationalities, in order of most to least prolific, are Spanish (white), French (red), Turkish (blue), Arabic (green), Portuguese (purple), German (orange), Italian (yellow), Malay (cyan) and Russian (violet).

It was put together by Ed Manley and James Cheshire at UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) using tweets collected during the Olympic period this summer. In some cases, the clusters are pretty much what you’d expect — Arabic tweets centred around Edgware Road, for example. In other cases, the concentrations are less well understood, such as the large French enclave (red) in south-east London, or the French absence from South Kensington. More on the interpretation can be found on James’ blog, while further details on the underlying data are given on Ed’s site.

As the researchers note, the graphic is a highly skewed version of London, and shouldn’t be read as a reliable measure of the capital’s general demographics. It can only plot people with enough technological confidence to use Twitter, and the desire to use it. Still, it gives an elegant snapshot into London’s Twitter users in the summer of 2012. The work is based on the maps of Eric Fischer, who did something similar for the whole world.

 

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  • HoosierSands

    No Polish? No Punjabi?
    What was the use of having the sample done during the Olympics-which would surely have included a number of non-London based tourist tweets?

    • MattFromLondonist

      Who says there has to be a use? It’s just a proof-of-concept and a bit of fun, not a serious study.

  • http://twitter.com/thelondoneer The Londoneer

    How strange – I was expecting lots of Polish too, and what’s with the massive concentrations of French in discreet areas here and there? Do these people not talk to each other? :)

  • Xavier

    As a London Frenchman, I agree that the near total absence of red in the South Kensington area is odd. And what are we to make of the apparently large cluster of French on the North-Western edge of Hyde Park ( apparently the Kensington Church Street / Notting Hill area ) ?

    • MattFromLondonist

      Large clusters aren’t necessarily lots of individuals. It could be one or two super-keen people sending off many tweets.

  • Mark Johnson

    very clever use of twitter data.

  • http://www.mercubuana.ac.id/ ryditya909

    nice information