Did you know that in French, a pie-chart is called 'camembert'? Yes, the cheese.
The uncanny discovery was made by Eric Hittinger, a Public Policy Professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Hittinger was reviewing a paper for a French-language journal when he made the unusual discovery.
And it turns out that it's not just speakers of the English and French languages who were reminded of food when looking at a pie-chart. Turns out, the circular graph has food-inspired names across the world.
The names come from the innocuous shape of a pie when cut in slices. The French instead saw a block of Camembert cheese cut in slices as the best metaphor for the graph.
Currently reviewing a paper for a French-language journal and I just learned that the French call a "pie chart" a "camembert". Now I want to know what pie charts are called in other languages so we can make a delicious chart of the results. pic.twitter.com/ea7nZM9JPM— Eric Hittinger (@ElephantEating) February 13, 2021
Hittinger went on to list out all the local names of pie-chart in different countries. The Chinese call it flatbread pie. The Brazilians and Portuguese call it pizza chart.
The Dutch on the other hand call it the layer cake diagram. The cake is a popular symbol for describing the pie chart. Many including Germans, Swedish, Italian, Norwegian, Turkish, Croatians call it the cake diagram. The pie chart itself is a popular name for the circular diagram which is so-called in several countries including the United States, Poland, Spain, Greece, French Belgium and others.
Hittinger went on to point out interesting observations about the names. For instance, the French 'camembert' has no modifiers. such as "chart" or "graph". It's not the camembert chart but just "camembert". The Finnish strategy is more 'belt and suspenders' of using both 'circle' and 'cake'.
My two favorite details so far:1. The French "camembert" has no modifiers ("chart", "graph") at all. Just "camembert".2. The Finnish "belt and suspenders" strategy of using both "circle" and "cake".— Eric Hittinger (@ElephantEating) February 14, 2021
The pie chart was first introduced in 1801 in the book titled Statistical Breviary written by William Playfair. It is widely used in academics, research, offices, and media presentations and its ease of use makes it an easy, visual key to describe statistics.