Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Language Diversity on the Internet - New studies

About the language diversity on the internet, a friend summarizes Daniel Pimienta's study to say that between 1996 and 2007, the proportion of English-language websites went down from 75% to 45%, and the proportion of English-language users from 80% to 32%. According to my friend, the study also has "figures for the proportion by country of people using French, Spanish, Portuguese, and English (where the US is massively dominant)".

Pimienta's paper is in French, which I don't know at all. It would therefore be very useful if someone could (dis-)confirm or nuance the conclusions above. The paper was presented in January 2009 at a conference in Mali; here's the list of presentations - in French and in English.

In another study, Languages and Cultures on the Internet - 2007, Pimienta and his colleagues declare that because of the rapid growth of pages in the internet (especially in Asian languages), and because of the growing use of context-dependant advertising (like Google AdSense), search engines can no longer represent accurately the distribution of languages on the internet. Depending on the search engine one gets dissimilar figures on the language diversity on the internet. The research group, in fact, concludes that it would be a good idea to have a separate search engine for Romance languages. Should Esperanto, for example, be included there?

This last study I translated into English using Google's Translation tool. The research results can also be read in Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Rumanian and Spanish. But not in English: are they trying to rub in the point that the internet is no longer only or mainly in English?

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