The Epic Origins and Journey of the Word Map.

𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐛𝐮𝐥𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐦𝐚𝐩 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐤 𝐰𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤, 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤, 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠.


𝐇𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐦𝐚𝐩?

Not what about what it is or does but the actual word itself? #𝐌𝐚𝐩! It’s short, it’s simple, to the point, yet it’s subject is so complex. Maps are multi faceted with the ability combine complex information together on one simple sheet of paper. So why such an unassuming name for such an important item?


𝐒𝐨 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐝𝐨 𝐰𝐞 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐦𝐚𝐩 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐰𝐚𝐲?

The word 𝑴𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒂̄́ is an ancient Canaanite word of Semetic origins meaning cloth. The Semetic speaking Phoenicians brought this word with them to the Lebanon area 3000BC-ish. 𝑴𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒂̄́ remained unchanged until the founding of Carthage around 550bc.


The Phoenician language slowly began to mold into the Punic language. Which developed out of the Phoenician language molding with other native languages of the area, mainly of the Berber branches. The Punic language dropped a p and added a table. The new word 𝑴𝒂𝒑𝒂̄́ (Table cloth).


Around this same time the Carthagens had a practice of drawing their military maps on table cloths, as paper was scarce. This practice was introduced to the Romans in 146 BCE when they defeated Carthage. Which is where we get the Romanized vulgar Latin word 𝒎𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒂 𝒎𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒊̄ meaning napkin of the world.


As Vulgar Latin continued to regionally change it began to develop into the French language around the area of Northern Gaul. It is this change where we begin to see our word take on the more modern meaning. With French we finally see the shedding its table cloth past. The new 𝒎𝒂𝒑𝒂𝒎𝒐𝒏𝒅𝒆 meaning map of the world.


But Map still isn’t done with its journey yet. In 1066 William the Conqueror led the Norman conquest of England. With him he brought the word 𝒎𝒂𝒑𝒂𝒎𝒐𝒏𝒅𝒆. Around this time the old Germanic language which we refer to as Old English, was beginning to change. More and more Latin roots with Greek influences began to creep in and eventually formed Middle English. It is in Middle English where we see our closest relative 𝒎𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒎𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆 (map of the world).


Maps really began to shine at this time. Over the years paper became more accessible and maps started to become more available. Suddenly the world was a much bigger place than originally thought. 𝑴𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒎𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆 could no longer be considered world maps and finally the mounde (world) was dropped and we formed 𝒎𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒆 which was shortened to the Modern English word 𝒎𝒂𝒑.


𝐦𝐚𝐩 (𝐦æ𝐩)

n., v. mapped, map•ping. n.

1. a representation, usually on a flat surface, of selected features of all or a part of the earth or a portion of the heavens, shown in their respective relationships according to some convention of representation.


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