Sep 27, 2023
2 min

Mapping Lexical Distances Between Europe's Languages: A Heatmap Visualization Exploration

PlotSet teamwriter

Visualizing Interconnected Relationships: A Data-Driven Analysis

Modern problems often demand modern solutions, and data visualization becomes a paramount tool when trying to understand intricate relationships. Let’s put this theory to the test, shall we?

The linguistic diversity of Europe and how certain languages are lexically distant from one another is not a big mystery. While Europe is a melting pot of languages, English emerges as the universal bridge.

Whether it's a Finn or a Spaniard at a local bar, chances are, they'll communicate in English – a testament to its status as the continent's unofficial second language. But have you ever wondered how much lexical distance is between Europe’s languages?

The following chart classifies European languages into distinct families, revealing patterns of lexical closeness. Let’s dive into this comprehensive data visualization to learn more.

Overview of the Data

The visualization you see above is a heatmap. Heatmaps utilize color-coded systems to visualize the data. This type of visualization makes it straightforward to understand the relationships at a glance.

The data lists relationships between various nodes, designated by two-letter codes (e.g., 'En,' 'Sc,' 'Du,' etc.). For each pair of nodes, there's an associated value. These values represent the lexical distances between the languages.

Now, what can we understand from this visualization?

At first glance, we notice that the relationship between nodes (e.g., En-Sc) has a mirrored counterpart (Sc-En). This indicates the reciprocal nature of the relationships, which can be crucial in understanding the data's structure.

Each node has a self-relationship with a value of '0'. This can be an essential reference point, helping to understand the scale of relationships. It might be depicted in the heatmap with a distinct color or pattern. You can identify this self-relationship via the distinctive diagonal line in the midst of the visualization

The smallest non-zero values can indicate strong or close relationships. For instance, Da-Nb has a value of 4, suggesting a significant connection.

High values can show distant or weak relationships. For instance, Lu-Ic and Lu-Sr both have a value of 51, which might suggest weaker or more distant connections relative to other pairs.

Nodes like Sf-Nf with a value of 29 could be seen as having average relationships, helping set a reference for what's considered 'typical' in this dataset.

One can identify potential categories or groups within the data by clustering groups of nodes with similar relationship patterns. This can be vital in classifying and organizing the nodes in meaningful ways.

Concluding Thoughts:

Visualizing intricate relationships can unveil patterns, outliers, and critical insights otherwise hidden in raw data. The given dataset is a prime example of how data, when visualized effectively, can provide a comprehensive overview of complex interrelations.

For more information on this topic, you can check out the following articles: Worldwide map or data for linguistic distance?
A Map of Lexical Distances Between Europe’s Languages

We, the PlotSet team, are enthusiastic to spice up your storytelling world using data visualization, and we will show you how to do so through various blogs. If you’re into data journalism or you just want to present your data to an audience, we strongly suggest taking a look at what we have prepared for you here. Enjoy reading!

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