Map of Languages

A map of languages spoken in the Middle East, found here (at
I’m struck by homogenous much of Turkey is, characterized primarily by Kurdish and Turkish; I wonder what this map would have looked like in the 1890s.


6 Responses to “Map of Languages”

  1. It’s not actually a map of languages spoken, but of ethnic groups in the Middle East. Needles to say, not every ethnic group speaks ‘its’ language anymore, although the legend does suggest so by classifying ethnicities by language spoken.

    The map also looks poorly done: “Chaldians” is misspelt. Assyrians have a different colour in legend and on the map. And what are they still doing in Hakkâri by the way?. Even in the Mardin, the Syriacs are a minority in every area and yet they get the entire merkez to themselves.

    I also question the Greek areas in Çanakkale and Balıkesir… unless the map maker considers those people Greek by ancestry and not identity? In which case, why wasn’t that measurement used in drawing the rest of the map?

  2. Good points! Ethnicity is a 20th century concept, so if these languages are ‘ethnically defined’ this map isn’t at all comparable to a map of, say, 1890.

  3. Definitely a very poorly done map, as pointed above. It divides many Turkic groups that otherwise speak more or less the same language: Azerbaijani Turkish, thus underrepresenting it on the map. Also, it overrepresents Kurds in general, especially in Khorasan and Western Iran.

  4. And marking Persian as a language spoken/ethnic group living in Tabriz is simply ridiculous. I have never heard it spoken there, nor met any Persian native to Tabriz during my stay. Nevertheless, it is possible to hear Armenian – as there is a sizeable community living in the city – but then again that language is not marked as spoken in Tabriz.

  5. and as for the Zaza…

  6. Persians do live in Tabriz. They are natives to the land. Turkic tribes only migrated there in the 15th century. also Tabriz has a large Kurdish population. Up north along the border to Azerbaijan Republic Tallish is spoken and a large native Persian speaker also live there , again there are small number of Kurds in that area as well. Actually Northwestern Iran is the most diverse place on earth. You can go from one village to the next village, and a different language and ethnic group lives right next to each other. I can say this, because I’m 100% Iranian and know all this place very well.

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