Monday, July 15, 2019

Map in European Languages

The map above shows the word 'map' translated into a number of different European languages. The continent is mostly divided between those who derive the word 'map' from Latin and those who derive the word from Greek.

The word for 'map' in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Czech and Serbian comes from the Latin 'mappa' for 'sheet' or 'napkin'. The word's use to describe a drawn representation of an area originates from the medieval Latin 'mappa mundi'. The literal translation of 'mappa mundi' is 'sheet of the world', from Latin mappa ‘sheet, napkin’ and mundi ‘of the world’ (genitive of mundus ).

Most other languages in Europe derive the word 'map' from the Greek word 'khártēs' (meaning map). These include the French, who use 'Carte', the German 'Karte' and the Danish 'Kort'.

In English, despite using a Latin derived word as the name for a map, we use a Greek word for the science or practice of drawing maps. The word 'cartography' comes from the French 'cartographie', from Ancient Greek 'khártēs' (map) + 'gráphō' (write). The other users of the Latin 'mappa' to describe a map (Spain, Portugal, Poland, Czechia and Serbia) also use a word derived from these Greek words (khártēs+'gráphō) to describe the actual science of making maps.

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