Randy Krum
President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization and Infographic Design

Infographic Design

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A World of Languages

A World of Languages infographic

A World of Languages - and How Many Speak Them is a new infographic by Alberto Lucas López for the South China Morning Post that compares the number of people that speak the top 23 languages in the world as their primary language. High resolution image version available HERE.

There are at least 7,102 known languages alive in the world today. Twenty-three of these languages are a mother  tongue for more than 50 million people. The 23 languages make up the native tongue of 4.1 billion people. We represent each language within black borders and then provide the numbers of native speakers (in millions)  by country. The colour of these countries shows how languages have taken root in many different regions

The dominant visual centerpiece appears to be a combination of a voronoi diagram & circular treemap, where the area of each section is representative of the number of people that speak each language as their first language. I don’t know any any software that will create this specific visualization style, so I’m assuming the area of each section had to be calculated separately. With the different, organic shapes how were those areas calculated? Iteration?

The data is a little bit controversial. It’s an estimate of the number of people that speak each language as their first language. There’s no accounting for multi-lingual people or language families. I love the data visualization design, but the underlying data may cause some concern.