What are the most influential languages of the world? Is it the language that is spoken by most people? Is it the language that most media is in? There are so many different factors in what makes the most influential languages of the world and how they are related to each other.
Cesar Hidalgo of MIT led a team of researchers to examine: the languages of the world and categorize them on how widely certain forms of media are translated into other languages. Additionally to just identifying the most influential languages in the world, Hidalgo’s team also created a data map of how languages are connected to each other. To conduct this research the team analyzed data from books, Wikipedia and Twitter. This research was based on 2.2 million data volumes of books, thousands of articles translated on Wikipedia by editors and not by bots, and millions of tweets sent in by 17million users in 73 different languages.
How did the team connect the languages to each other one may ask? If a Twitter user sent out a tweet in multiple languages, let’s say Spanish and Portuguese, then those languages would be connected to each other.
Not surprising, English turned out to be the largest hub of information that was being used to translate into different languages. It was apparent that other languages like Russian, Spanish and German were also used as the primary hub language and then translated into different languages.
What is surprising is that countries with smaller populations are actually in the top 10 hubs for book sources that were translated from the local language into other languages. Languages such as Swedish, Danish and Dutch. The Netherlands for example, is a country with a mere population of 16 million people (plus or minus, excluding the Dutch Antilles and Surinam) and yet ranks in one of the most used hubs of information translated into different languages.
The research concluded that approximately 50% of content and media on the internet is in English, making it the most prevailing language on the internet. Since English is the most spoken language of the internet, it can safely be said that English is the language that connects people across all languages.
Does this mean for us in the media world that going global means going English? We’ll let you decide that one…
To read the full article on IFLScience, click here
To read the full paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, click here
ZIGT Media Agency