Languages used on the Internet

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Slightly over half of the homepages of the most visited websites on the World Wide Web are in English, with varying amounts of information available in many other languages.[1][2] Other top languages are Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Persian, French, German and Japanese.[1]

Of the more than 7,000 existing languages, only a few hundred are recognized as being in use for Web pages on the World Wide Web.[3]

Languages used[edit]

There is debate over the most-used languages on the Internet. A 2009 UNESCO report monitoring the languages of websites for 12 years, from 1996 to 2008, found a steady year-on-year decline in the percentage of webpages in English, from 75 percent in 1998 to 45 percent in 2005.[2] The authors found that English remained at 45 percent of content for 2005 to the end of the study but believe this was due to the bias of search engines indexing more English-language content rather than a true stabilization of the percentage of content in English on the World Wide Web.[2]

The number of non-English web pages is rapidly expanding. The use of English online increased by around 281 percent from 2001 to 2011, a lower rate of growth than that of Spanish (743 percent), Chinese (1,277 percent), Russian (1,826 percent) or Arabic (2,501 percent) over the same period.[4]

According to a 2000 study, the international auxiliary language Esperanto ranked 40 out of all languages in search engine queries, also ranking 27 out of all languages that rely on the Latin script.[5]

Content languages for websites[edit]

W3Techs estimated percentages of the top 10 million websites on the World Wide Web using various content languages as of November 12, 2021:[1]

Rank Language Percentage
1 English 63.4%
2 Russian 7.1%
3 Turkish 3.9%
4 Spanish 3.7%
5 Persian 3.5%
6 French 2.5%
7 German 2.0%
8 Japanese 1.9%
9 Vietnamese 1.8%
10 Chinese 1.3%
11 Arabic 1.2%
12 Indonesian 0.8%
13 Portuguese 0.7%
14 Italian 0.7%
15 Ukrainian 0.6%
16 Thai 0.6%
17 Dutch 0.5%
18 Korean 0.5%
19 Hebrew 0.5%
20 Polish 0.5%
21 Greek 0.3%
22 Romanian 0.2%
23 Czech 0.2%
24 Serbian 0.2%
25 Swedish 0.2%
26 Danish 0.1%
27 Hungarian 0.1%
28 Bulgarian 0.1%
29 Finnish 0.1%
30 Croatian 0.1%
31 Slovak 0.1%
32 Hindi 0.1%
33 Norwegian Bokmål 0.1%

All other languages are used in less than 0.1% of websites. Even including all languages, percentages may not sum to 100% because some websites contain multiple content languages.

The figures from the W3Techs study are based on the one million most visited websites (i.e., approximately 0.27 percent of all websites according to December 2011 figures) as ranked by Alexa.com, and language is identified using only the home page of the sites in most cases (e.g., all of Wikipedia is based on the language detection of http://www.wikipedia.org).[6] As a consequence, the figures show a significantly higher percentage for many languages (especially for English) as compared to the figures for all websites.[7] The figures for all websites are unknown, but some sources estimate below 50 percent for English; see for instance, Towards a multilingual cyberspace[8] and the 2009 UNESCO report.[2]

Icelandic is among, or the least, used national language on the internet, while Welsh has fewer words on the internet.

Content languages on YouTube[edit]

Of the top 250 YouTube channels, 66% of the content is in English, 15% in Spanish, 7% in Portuguese, 5% in Hindi, 2% in Korean, while other languages make up 5%.[9][better source needed] YouTube is available in over 80 languages with more than a hundred different local version.[10] Of those popular YouTube channels that posted a video in the first week of 2019, just over half contained some content in a language other than English.[11]

Internet users by language[edit]

InternetWorldStats estimates of the number of Internet users by language as of March 31, 2020:[12]

Rank Language Internet
users
Percentage
1 English 1,186,451,052 25.9%
2 Chinese 888,453,068 19.4%
3 Spanish 363,684,593   7.9%
4 Arabic 237,418,349   5.2%
5 Indonesian / Malaysian 198,029,815   4.3%
6 Portuguese 171,750,818   3.7%
7 French 151,733,611   3.3%
8 Japanese 118,626,672   2.6%
9 Russian 116,353,942   2.5%
10 German 92,525,427   2.0%
1-10 Top 10 languages 3,525,027,347   76.9%
- Others 1,060,551,371  23.1%
Total 4,585,578,718 100%

Wikipedia page views by language[edit]

Most popular edition of Wikipedia by country in January 2021.
Most viewed editions of Wikipedia over time.
Most edited editions of Wikipedia over time.

Wikimedia Statistics gives the number of page views of each edition of Wikipedia by language.[13]

Rank Language Daily page views (average during the last year with "Agent"="User" on 4 January 2021)
1 English 257,705,129
2 Japanese 37,286,466
3 Spanish 37,018,505
4 German 30,844,175
5 Russian 26,358,126
6 French 24,392,611
7 Italian 18,622,198
8 Chinese 13,371,571
9 Portuguese 11,506,680
10 Polish 8,810,420
11 Arabic 7,333,102
12 Persian 5,672,829
13 Indonesian 5,385,401
14 Dutch 4,935,611
15 Turkish 3,382,454

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Pimienta, Daniel, Prado, Daniel and Blanco, Álvaro (2009). "Twelve years of measuring linguistic diversity in the Internet: balance and perspectives". United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "What continents have the most indigenous languages?". Ethnologue. 3 May 2019. Archived from the original on 27 December 2019. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  3. ^ Rotaru, Alexandru. "The foreign language Internet is good for business". Archived from the original on 7 April 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  4. ^ Grefenstette, Gregory; Nioche, Julien. "Estimation of English and non-English Language Use on the WWW Archived 10 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine". Proceedings of RIAO'2000, "Content-Based Multimedia Information Access", Paris, April 12–14, 2000, pp. 237-246.
  5. ^ "Technologies Overview". W3Techs. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  6. ^ An alternative approach to produce indicators of languages in the Internet Archived 31 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine Pimienta, Daniel, June 2017
  7. ^ NET.LANG: Towards a multilingual cyberspace Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine MAAYA (coord.), Laurent Vannini and Hervé le Crosnier (eds.), Maaya Network, C&F éditions, March 2012, 446 pp., ISBN 978-2-915825-08-4[dead link]
  8. ^ Yang, Brian (2019). "6 Common Features Of Top 250 YouTube Channels". Twinword, Inc. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  9. ^ GMI Blogger (18 April 2022). "YouTube User Statistics 2022". Global Media Insight - Dubai Digital Interactive Agency. Archived from the original on 27 April 2022. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
  10. ^ van Kessel, Patrick; Toor, Skye; Smith, Aaron (25 July 2019). "Popular YouTube channels produced a vast amount of content, much of it in languages other than English". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
  11. ^ "Number of Internet Users by Language" Archived 26 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Internet World Stats, Miniwatts Marketing Group, 31 March 2020, accessed 10 May 2020
  12. ^ List of Wikipedias/Table2 Archived 17 January 2021 at the Wayback Machine, Wikimedia, read on January 4, 2021

External links[edit]