Map Any Word Across the World

Caitlin Dempsey


Word Map is a fascinating online mapping application that lets the user type in any word and see that word mapped in the official or dominant language of each country around the world.

Word Map combines Google Translate with Wikipedia entries to create a map labeled with the word translated into each language.  I tested out  the map service with the English word cartography.  Very quickly, the map plotted the various translations of the word such as cartografía for Spain and kartografija for Croatia.  

Each label is hyperlinked to a snippet from Wikipedia explaining the language breakdown of each country.  The labels on the map are also written in the alphabet native to that country, for example Ukraine uses the cyrillic alphabet so the translation of cartography in Ukrainian is картографія.

The map uses radial lines to connect countries that share the same official or dominant language.  Spanish is the dominant language in 20 countries and clicking on Spain highlights radial lines extending into South and Central America.  The info box also lets the user know how many other countries share that same dominant language.

Try it out: Word Map [via]

Screenshot of Word Map.

Mapping the Geography of Terms with Frankenplace

Frankenplace is an online mapping search engine developed by Ben Adams, from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and and Grant McKenzie from UC Santa Barbara.  Frankenplace indexes over 5 million articles from the English version of Wikipedia and online travel blog entries in order to bring geographical context to search queries.  

What is Frankenplace?

Frankenplace is an ad hoc search engine that helps users identify documents that fit their search criteria. Users can use the map interface to quickly explore through hundreds or thousands of documents that match their query while bringing their background knowledge of geography to bear on their interpretation of the results by visualizing the interaction between the thematic and geographic content of documents. Unexpected patterns that appear on the map, on the other hand, present opportunity to discover new things about how a topic of interest is related to places.

How to Use Frankenplace

When a search word or phrase is typed in, a thematic overlay is returned in the form of a heat map showing the geographic clustering of Wikipedia and travel blog mentions of that term.  For example, I searched for ‘vermilion’ and discovered that the term is most heavily referenced in the United States and parts of Canada with far fewer entries elsewhere.  

Hover over any spots, and a list of entries will show up in the window on the upper right.  Click on any spot to pin the results at which point you can browse through the various search results.

Screenshot from Frankenplace

Visit: Frankenplance

To learn more, read the research paper:

B. Adams, G. McKenzie, and M. Gahegan (2015) Frankenplace: Interactive Thematic Mapping for Ad Hoc Exploratory Searching. 24th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2015),

See Also:

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

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