Significance of Language

Languages are such an important part of everyone’s lives, as it has been immersed into culture and architecture and it even changes the way we process our thoughts. As such, language is a crucial part of cultural diversity and is an important thing which differentiates cultures, making them unique. Here is where Geoguessr comes in, a video in which players are dropped into a random location around the world, and their objective is to guess where the location is. It is a game with a high skill peak yet with low barriers of entry, making it an engaging game. 

Introduction to Geoguessr

There are many factors that contribute to a guess in the game, such as the road lines, the flora, or even the colour of the soil. For example, The United Kingdom has unique road lines, having two yellow outer lines, and in the Hokkaido province of Japan, a unique type of round-leafed cabbage grows on the side of the road. These are some of the many examples of clues that can be used to find the location of the game. However, language is unquestionably the most important factor when placing a guess. 

Roadlines in the UK
Cabbage in Hokkaido, Japan

Language in Geoguesser &
Relation to Spanish and French

Despite all of the other clues, language is the most valuable and easy clue for beginners and experts. Furthermore, there is a lot to learn from the clues. For example, the stop signs in Spanish-speaking countries in South America say, “pare,” meaning stop, but strangely, the stop signs in Spain simply say, “stop.” This is due to a result of European Union rules specifying English as the language of road signs in order to standardize transport across EU member states. However, there are no such laws in Latin American countries, therefore the stop signs simply say “Pare.”(fig. 3) An interesting stop sign is the Mexican stop sign, which says, “Alto,” which means high, or tall. There are no defined reasons as to why this is the case. However, it is likely that it is derived from the German word, “halten,” which means to stop, and has the same meaning as a halt in English. Another possible reason is the Spanish usage of the word alto during 15th-century Italian wars. However, nothing is certain. 

Another case of multilingual signage is the French stop signs in Canada. Quite obviously, the stop signs in Quebec say, “Arrêt” meaning stop in French, due to the abundance of French speakers in Quebec. However, interestingly, the stop signs in New Brunswick, which is the province to the East of Quebec, say both “Arrêt,” and, “stop.”(fig. 4)  This is due to the fact that there are a significant population of both French and English speakers in the province as shown in Figure 3. 


In conclusion, languages are a quintessential part of everything. It affects lives, cultures, history and so much more. Spanish and French are two of the most prominent languages in the world, due to the result of past colonialism and the impacts it l can even be seen in a mere Geography video game, in many forms such as the bilingual stop signs of New Brunswick and the stop signs of Mexico. These are some of the countless impacts that languages have had on our world.

Hoan (Steve) Lee

Member of European Languages Society


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