Saturday, January 30, 2010

Multilingual Map: Territorial Waters?

One last detail of this multilingual map. Here we see Florida and the Bahamas (with place-names in English, since the US and UK lay claim to these lands respectively) and Cuba's place-names are in Spanish. When it comes to the sea, English is used right up to the north coast of Cuba; everything south of Cuba is in Spanish.

The use of English or Spanish demarcates different parts of the sea, conceptually it dividing this contiguous body of water into distinct cultural/linguistic zones. The tidy distinction does break down, though; for instance, Jamaica's territory bears English place-names yet the water immediately around the island (presumably within Jamaica's jurisdiction) bears Spanish text. As a whole, the map really visualizes (for me) how arbitrary and paradoxical the notion of "territorial waters" is in the first place. In order to define "territorial water," one must first conceive of water as if it were land (Latin etymology: terra = earth, land).

For more on this map, see here and here.

No comments:

Post a Comment