Languages used on the Internet

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About half of the homepages of the most visited sites on the Internet are in English, with varying amounts of information available in many other languages.[1][2] Other top languages, according to W3Techs, are Russian, German, Japanese, Spanish, French, Chinese, Portuguese, and Italian.[1]

Of the more than 7,000 existing languages, only a few hundred are recognized as being in use for content pages on the Internet.[3][1]

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 online.[2]

Ongoing monitoring by W3Techs showed that in March 2015, just over 55 percent of the most visited websites had English-language homepages.[1] Other top languages that are used at least in 2 percent of the one million most visited websites according to W3Techs are Russian, German, Japanese, Spanish, French, Chinese, and Portuguese.[1]

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 (i.e., all of Wikipedia is based on the language detection of http://www.wikipedia.org).[4] As a consequence, the figures show a significantly higher percentage for many languages (especially for English) as compared to the figures for all websites.[5] The figures for all websites are unknown, but some sources estimate below 50 percent for English; see for instance, Towards a multilingual cyberspace [6] and the 2009 UNESCO report.[2]

The number of non-English 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.[7]

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.[8]

Content languages for websites[edit]

W3Techs estimated percentages of the top 10 million websites using various content languages as of 22 June 2018:[9]

Content languages for websites as of 12 March 2014[1]
Rank Language Percentage
1 English 52.4%
2 German 6.3%
3 Russian 6.2%
4 Spanish 5.1%
5 French 4.1%
6 Japanese 4.0%
7 Portuguese 2.8%
8 Italian 2.5%
9 Persian 1.9%
10 Chinese 1.8%
11 Polish 1.8%
12 Dutch, Flemish 1.3%
13 Turkish 1.2%
14 Czech 1.0%
15 Korean 0.9%
16 Arabic 0.6%
18 Vietnamese 0.6%
19 Swedish 0.5%
20 Greek 0.5%
21 Hungarian 0.5%
22 Romanian 0.4%
23 Indonesian 0.4%
24 Slovak 0.4%
25 Danish 0.3%
26 Finnish 0.3%
27 Thai 0.2%
28 Bulgarian 0.2%
29 Ukrainian 0.2%
30 Hebrew 0.2%
31 Albanian 0.2%
32 Norwegian Bokmål 0.2%
33 Lithuanian 0.1%
34 Croatian 0.1%
35 Norwegian 0.1%
36 Catalan 0.1%
37 Serbian 0.1%
38 Slovenian 0.1%
39 Belarusian 0.1%
40 Estonian 0.1%
41 Hindi 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.

Internet users by language[edit]

InternetWorldStats estimates of the number of Internet users by language as of April 20, 2018:[10]

Rank Language Internet
users
Percentage
1 English 1,052,764,386 25.3%
2 Chinese 804,634,814 19.4%
3 Spanish 337,892,295   8.1%
4 Arabic 219,041,264   5.3%
5 Portuguese 169,157,589   4.1%
6 Indonesian / Malaysian 168,755,091   4.1%
7 French 118,626,672   2.9%
8 Japanese 109,552,842   2.8%
9 Russian 108,014,564   2.7%
10 German 84,700,419   2.2%
11–36 Others 950,318,284  22.9%
Total 4.16 Billion 100%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Usage of content languages for websites". W3Techs.com. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ The World Languages Statistics
  4. ^ "Technologies Overview". W3Techs. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  5. ^ An alternative approach to produce indicators of languages in the Internet Pimienta, Daniel, June 2017
  6. ^ NET.LANG: Towards a multilingual cyberspace MAAYA (coord.), Laurent Vannini and Hervé le Crosnier (eds.), Maaya Network, C&F éditions, March 2012, 446 pp., ISBN 978-2-915825-08-4
  7. ^ Rotaru, Alexandru. "The foreign language Internet is good for business". Archived from the original on 2013-04-07. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  8. ^ Grefenstette, Gregory; Nioche, Julien. "Estimation of English and non-English Language Use on the WWW". Proceedings of RIAO'2000, "Content-Based Multimedia Information Access", Paris, April 12-14,2000, pp. 237-246.
  9. ^ https://w3techs.com/technologies/history_overview/content_language
  10. ^ "Number of Internet Users by Language", Internet World Stats, Miniwatts Marketing Group, 31 December 2017, accessed 20 April 2018

External links[edit]