Linguistic diversity on the tube

Fascinating story on The Atlantic CityLab site on October 27th: “Mapping London’s ‘Tube Tongues’: An interactive map shows what languages — apart from English — are most spoken at each underground stop” by Tanvi Misra:

Step out at the Oxford Circus stop in London and your ears are immediately assaulted by several different languages at once. That’s understandable, considering Oxford street is usually quite crowded—tourists and Londoners alike buzz in and out of the shops and restaurants the street is known for.

One of the languages I heard most in that region was French. I thought this was because, in general, London has the most French nationals living there of any other city outside France. A more targeted review shows it’s also because a lot of French speakers live in that area.

Linguistic diversity is one of the most striking things about London. If you’re like me and enjoy the playing “What Language Are Those Strangers Speaking?,” this interactive map can help inform your guesses.

(Hat tip to Chris Hansen — whose tube stop is Elephant and Castle — on Facebook.)

Further notes:

Oliver O’Brien, a researcher in the geography department at University College London made this map using 2011 census data after being inspired by a colleague’s map.

… Clicking on a station pulls up a breakdown of what languages are spoken for output areas within a 200 mile radius. The bubbles are color-coded for the language most widely spoken after English — the bigger the bubble, the bigger the proportion of people that speak that language.

… So which stop wins the prize for Most Linguistic Diversity? It’s the Turnpike Lane stop on the Piccadilly line. There are 16 different languages spoken around that area, and none of them are dominant (except English, of course).

Languages in the Turnpike Lane area with 2% or more in the survey, in descending order (after English): Polish, Turkish, Bulgarian, Spanish, Bengali, Portuguese, Greek.

2 Responses to “Linguistic diversity on the tube”

  1. markonsea Says:

    “within a 200-mile radius” ? ? ?

    I assume some computer somewhere has been given greater latitide than any computer deserves. Mind you, “200m” is completely ambiguous in the present-day UK … unless, of course, you pay attention to context.

  2. markonsea Says:

    latitude. I “proof-read” it, as well!

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