9 Fascinating Maps Show the Origins of Our Most Common Words

The news: We may live in an increasingly globalized world, but we often forget that the intermingling of cultures and languages far precedes the advent of laptops and smartphones.

Just take a look at these maps — helpfully put together by Reddit user sp07 — to see how pervasive the spread of language is. The maps show the etymological roots of common words, as well as which European countries use different variations of them. While the words may have changed and evolved over the centuries, these maps make the world feel a bit smaller and more connected.

1. Bear

Source: Imgur

"Honey-eater" is a popular, and adorable, way of describing bears.

2. Church

Source: Imgur

Most of the words for "church" seem to have ancient Greek origins, which makes sense given the region's importance in the formation of early Christianity.

3. Beer

Source: Imgur

Many of the root words for "beer" seem to come from a Proto-Indo-European language, describing different aspects of the drink such as "bitter," "barley" and "brewer's yeast."

4. Rose

Source: Imgur

Most of Europe seems to pronounce the word "rose" the same way, though northern Italy is a notable exception.

5. Pineapple

Source: Imgur

The vast majority of Europe got their word for "pineapple" from Guarani, an indigenous language in South America.

6. Apple

Source: Imgur

There are a lot of variations on the word "apple," and it's interesting to see that versions of the Indo-Iranian word made it all the way to Finland and Estonia. 

7. Tea

Source: Imgur

Given tea's Asian roots, it makes sense that the most common root words for it originate from China (Cantonese and Amoy).

8. Cucumber

Source: Imgur

"Cucumber" is a relatively divisive one, although variations on the medieval Greek word are pretty common.

9. Orange

Source: Imgur

"Orange" is often associated with China or Portugal, depending on the region. But the Sanskrit origin of the word is also very common.

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Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

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