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The most used languages ​​on the internet


The most used languages ​​on the internet

As is well known, the internet network was able to realize its global expansion shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Since 1993, thanks to the CERN, the European Council for Nuclear Research, the www system and the hypertext were imposed on the dense network of interconnected computers that, within a few months, also extended to the domestic sphere (in Spain, For example, the first flat rates of Infovía in 1996 allowed, in fact, that the access of individuals and families to the Internet could begin to generalize).

The novelty of being able to dispose immediately and cheaply of unlimited texts, shortly after images, audios and later videos, had as main distinguishing limit the same one that has been characterizing and separating the different societies throughout history, the different languages ​​that make up and necessarily determine different human groups. The new reality of the Internet, with all its components and economic, political, ideological and social derivations, could be analyzed and measured, obviously, from two different but complementary perspectives: a) taking into account the amount of content that was left available in each language (adopting a very imprecise unit: the web page) and b) measuring the number of speakers of a language or a society that were also becoming Internet users.

Almost twenty years after the beginning of the web it is estimated that one in three humans, more than two billion of the seven of them who inhabit the Earth, is prepared, can, wants and actually uses these new tools. Classical distinctions between literate and illiterate people with which they classified and defined individuals, groups and societies a few years ago, are outdated, and today is the digital divide that separates the two billion men who can be regular Internet users of those who do not they are, and even more, those who can not be in a long time.

Thus, the German site netz-tipp.de offered this distribution by languages ​​of the active pages in 2002:

Language Millions
of pages
in 2002
% of total web
English 1,142.5 56.4%
German 156.2 7.7%
French 113.1 5.6%
Japanese 98.3 4.9%
Spanish 59.9 3.0%
Chinese 48.2 2.4%
Italian 41.1 2.0%
Dutch 38.8 1.9%
Russian 33.7 1.7%
Korean 30.8 1.5%
Portuguese 29.4 1.5%
Swedish 15.1 0.7%
Polish 14.8 0.7%
Danish 12.3 0.6%
Czech 11.5 0.6%
Turkish 4.9 0.2%
Hungarian 4.1 0.2%
Greek 2.0 0.1%
others 168.0 8.3%
Total web pages 2024.7 100.0%

That same year, the Colombian company Miniwatts Marketing Group began its activity , which has been developing and offering, from the Internetworldstats.com website, detailed tables and statistical graphs on the global implementation of the internet, such as the ones reproduced below in which the ten most used languages ​​in the network, which allow us to follow the relative evolution of the different languages ​​in the new global scenario. Below we also offer a comparison with the data on the number of speakers of each language used by Ethnologue, the careful catalog developed by SIL International (on the origins of this organization, the Summer Institute of Linguistics,David Stoll’s classic book, Fishers of Men or Founders of Empire, is a must.), as an auxiliary instrument for the mission that they pursue: to ensure that each human being can know the Bible directly in their mother tongue, for which they must study all the languages ​​that are in the world and, if necessary, translate enough of the revealed text so that no soul is wasted. The sixteenth edition of Ethnologue (Dallas 2009) describes up to 6,909 living languages, with the following distribution by the number of those who have it as their first language:

Population rank Living Languages Number of speakers
quantity Total% Σ quantity Total% Σ
100,000,000 to 999,999,999 8 0.1 0.1% 2,308,548,848 38,73721 38.73721%
10,000,000 to 99,999,999 77 1.1 1.2% 2,346,900,757 39,38076 78.11797%
1,000,000 to 9,999,999 304 4.4 5.6% 951.916.458 15,97306 94.09102%
100,000 to 999,999 895 13.0 18.6% 283,116,716 4,75067 98.84170%
10,000 to 99,999 1,824 26,4 45.0% 60,780,797 1,01990 99.86160%
1,000 to 9,999 2.014 29.2 74.1% 7,773,810 0.13044 99.99204%
100 to 999 1.038 15.0 89.2% 461,250 0.00774 99.999978%
10 to 99 339 4.9 94.1% 12,560 0,00021 99.99999%
1 to 9 133 1.9 96.0% 521 0.00001 100.00000%
no data 277 4.0 100.0%
Totals 6,909 100.0 5,959,511,717 100.00000

The situation of the ten most used languages ​​on the internet in 2011, and the degree of penetration of each language on the Internet in relation to its total number of speakers, would be close to the following:

The ten
most used languages
on the internet
Internet users
(May 2011)
Internet penetration
by language
of the internet
% of total internet
of that language
(estimated 2011)
English 565.004.126 43.4% 301.4% 26.8% 1,302,275,670
Chinese 509,965,013 37.2%   1,478.7% 24.2% 1,372,226,042
Spanish 164,968,742 39.0% 807.4% 7.8% 423,085,806
Japanese 99,182,000 78.4% 110.7% 4.7% 126,475,664
Portuguese 82,586,600 32.5% 990.1% 3.9% 253,947,594
German 75,422,674 79.5% 174.1% 3.6% 94,842,656
Arab 65,365,400 18.8% 2,501.2% 3.3% 347.002.991
French 59,779,525 17.2% 398.2% 3.0% 347,932,305
Russian 59,700,000 42.8% 1,825.8% 3.0% 139,390,205
Korean 39,440,000 55.2% 107.1% 2.0% 71,393,343
Σ languages ​​1-10 1,615,957,333 36.4% 421.2% 82.2% 4,442,056,069
Other languages 350,557,483 14.6% 588.5% 17.8% 2,403,553,891
Total world 2,099,926,965 30.3% 481.7% 100.0%     6,930,055,154
Notes: (1) Statistics updated as of May 31, 2011. (2) Internet penetration by language is the ratio between the number of Internet users of that language and the number of speakers calculated. (3) The updated information on Internet use comes from data published by Nielsen Online, International Telecommunications Union -itu.int-, GfK and other sources. (4) Population statistics come from the US Census Bureau -census.gov-. (5) The original version of this table can be seen in Internet World Stats.
Example of reading the data: • It is estimated that 164,968,742 Spanish speakers use the Internet, which is 7.8 % of the total number of Internet users in the world. • Out of an estimated population of 423,085,806 Spanish-speaking people in the world, 39 % use the internet. • The number of Spanish-speaking Internet users has grown 807.4 % in the eleven year period 2000-2011.

The ten most used languages ​​on the internet in 2010
The ten most used languages ​​on the internet in 2010

The ten most used languages ​​on the internet in 2009
The ten most used languages ​​on the internet in 2009

It can be seen, comparing the tables for 2009 and 2010, how to increase the number of Internet users at a global scale of 1.6 to 2 billion, remain in the first four positions English, Chinese, Spanish and Japanese , but the French descends from the fifth place that occupied in 2009 to the eighth in 2010, already at that point, in addition, to be surpassed by the Russian (which has a much greater growth potential, given the delay of that language in penetrating into Internet and its greater number of speakers). In the coming years, depending on the importance of languages ​​for their number of speakers and as the number of Internet users increases, it can be assumed that Portuguese will surpass Japanese, that both may be exceeded by Arabic, and that Russian will be above German.

The ten most used languages ​​on the internet in 2008
The ten most used languages ​​on the internet in 2008

Comparing the statistics corresponding to 2008 and 2009, it is verified as a relatively small increase in the global number of Internet users (from 1.46 to 1.59 billion), coming from a large number of countries that are lagging behind in the incorporation of their citizenship. the network, is an interesting readjustment: the Italian disappears from the ten most used languages ​​on the Internet, replaced by the Russian, which is placed in ninth position down to Korean to the tenth. For his part, the Portuguese rises two positions, and is placed in sixth place, surpassing both the German and the Arab, disputing closely the fifth position held by the French. The first three positions are occupied, as corresponds to their size in speakers, by English, Chinese and Spanish, keeping Japanese the fourth position.

The ten most used languages ​​on the internet in 2007
The ten most used languages ​​on the internet in 2007

There are no variations between 2007 and 2008 regarding what are the ten most used languages ​​on the Internet, but there are changes in relative positions. The first four positions are maintained by English, Chinese and Spanish (which increase their presence notably in 2008 compared to 2007), and the Japanese. However, the German, fifth in 2007, is surpassed by French. And Arabic, the tenth language in 2007, rose to seventh position in 2008 by doubling its presence in just one year, losing a Portuguese, Korean and Italian position.

The ten most used languages ​​on the internet in 2006
The ten most used languages ​​on the internet in 2006

Although the statistics for 2006 and 2007 that we offer are only separated in fact three months from each other, the growth of ten percent of Spanish allows you to overcome the Japanese and place yourself in third position, after English and Chinese. The rest of the positions remain, except the last place, where the Russian loses the position he occupied in 2006 among the ten most used languages ​​on the Internet, before the emergence of the Arabic language, five years after 11S.

There are great divergences when calculating the speakers of a language, with large global variations that are due not only to calculation methods (for example, the criteria followed in cases of bilingualism or multilingualism), but also to the growing trend in many countries to school, in addition to the mother tongue or the national language, in a different universal language (especially English, and in some countries, such as Brazil, Spanish). Some authors estimate that there are 750 million English speakers adding L1 and L2, while others, for example, calculate that only between India and China can add 500 million people able to speak or understand English.

Let us compare, as an example of these divergences, the data on the number of speakers of these ten languages ​​offered by the internetworldstatstable with the number of speakers according to the SIL Protestant missionaries ( Ethnologue , 16th edition, 2009) and recalculate:

The ten
most used languages
on the internet
Internet users
(May 2011)
Internet penetration
by language
of that language
(estimated 2011)
according to Ethnologue
16th ed. web 2009
Internet penetration
English 565.004.126 43.4% 1,302,275,670 328.008.138 172.2%
Chinese 509,965,013 37.2% 1,372,226,042 1,212,515,844 42.0%
Spanish 164,968,742 39.0% 423,085,806 328,518,810 50.2%
Japanese 99,182,000 78.4% 126,475,664 122,080,100 81.2%
Portuguese 82,586,600 32.5% 253,947,594 177,981,570 46.4%
German 75,422,674 79.5% 94,842,656 90,249,110 83.6%
Arab 65,365,400 18.8% 347.002.991 221.002.544 29.6%
French 59,779,525 17.2% 347,932,305 67,838,450 88.1%
Russian 59,700,000 42.8% 139,390,205 143,553,950 41.6%
Korean 39,440,000 55.2% 71,393,343 66,305,890 59.5%
Σ languages ​​1-10 1,615,957,333 36.4% 4,442,056,069 2,758,054,406 58.6%
Other languages 350,557,483 14.6% 2,403,553,891 3,201,457,311 12.7%
Total world 2,099,926,965 30.3% 6,930,055,154 5,959,511,717 35.2%

Note that in this comparison, maintaining the numbers offered for the calculation of internet users by language in May 2011, the imbalances have to do mainly with respect to their comparison with the theoretical calculations of speakers of each language (in addition , in one case the total number of speakers is close to seven billion men, in the other to six billion). The most notable divergences occur in English and French.

In the case of English, there would be many more Internet users in that language than speakers, which does not make much sense. This anomaly is due to the stinginess that the Summer Institute of Linguistics demonstrates, for years, when counting the speakers of the language in which they move. It could be suspected that these missionary translators of the Bible wanted to scare their parish of American donors by placing English behind Chinese and, above all, behind those who have the same mother tongue as Columbus, even if by a very small difference, as if they sought to stimulate anti-Hispanic policies, so that their empire could decide that battle.

In the case of French, however, it seems prudent to suspect that those who prepared the reference table were wrong or assumed long-term delayed figures emanating from the grandeur of a Francophony that refuses to recognize the loss of influence suffered during the twentieth century by the language of Napoleon compared to Washington. Although the SIL can be somewhat harsh when assigning speakers to French, however, the recalculated percentage of its Internet penetration places it in a more coherent situation with the wealth and strength of its main speakers (over 80%, such as Japanese and the German). In fact the OIF itself, International Organization of La Francophonie,In its propaganda of 2011, it offers the figure of 200 million francophones in the world, recognizing that there are 72 million “partial speakers” there and assuring that 96.2 million francophones inhabit Africa. An organization that manages to ensure, on the other hand, that “French is the third language in the network”, supporting this statement in accounts that offer about the number of pages available on the Internet: 45% in English, 7% in German, 5% in French, 4.5% in Spanish, & c. (No wonder, in any case, these dances of figures with respect to the number of speakers of French: that same OIF, which defines “Francophonie” as one of the great linguistic communities of the world and preaches, as we have just said, 200 millions of francophones, with the aforementioned limitations, has no problem in affirming, in the same web page of his site, that the 70 states that formed the francophony in 2008 added then “870 million inhabitants, that is to say 13% of the world population”. Despite the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and the African famines, it seems to us that this “linguistic community” can not have diminished so much or so quickly.)

On the other hand, it will not hurt to leave said that, according to the data offered by Ethnologue, there are seven languages ​​that have more speakers than the least spoken language among the ten most present on the internet: Hindi (India 182 M), Bengali (Bangladesh 181 M), Javanese (Indonesia 84.6 M), Lahnda (Pakistan 78.3 M), Telugu (India 69.8 M), Vietnamese (Vietnam 68.6 M) and Marathi (India 68 M).

According to the same source, and apart from the naive criteria that encourage the Ethnologue missionaries , the following languages, all with more than three million L1 speakers, occupy these positions: 19 Italian (61.7 M), 21 Turkish (50.8 M), 23 Polish (40 M), 34 Persian (32.4 M), 40 Romanian (23.4 M), 42 Dutch (21.7 M), 67 Bavarian (13.3 M), 68 Greek (13.1 M), 73 Hungarian (12.5 M), 75 Catalan-Valencian-Balearic (11.5 M), 79 Quechua (10.1 M), 82 Lombard (9.1 M), 83 Bulgarian (9.1 M), 96 Neapolitan-Calabrian (7.0 M), 102 Swiss German (6.5 M), 106 Venetian (6.2 M), 118 Danish (5.6 M), 121 Hebrew ( 5.3 M), 127 guaraní (4.9 M), 131 Sicilian (4.8 M), 132 Norwegian (4.6 M), 160 Galician (3.2 M). (No comments regarding the presumed number of speakers of the supposed Catalan-Valencian-Balearic imperial that recognizes SIL, ignoring Valencian and Mallorcan, Quechua, Neapolitan-Calabrian, Venetian, & c.)

Languages ​​used in Google searches in June 2001
Languages ​​used in Google searches in June 2001

85% of internet users use 10 languages ​​(ICANN February 2008)
85% of internet users use 10 languages ​​(ICANN February 2008)

The ICANN organization, charged with organizing and assigning the names and numbers of Internet addresses, announced on February 13, 2008, the draft of its translation program to communicate with non-English speakers. It started with an assumption summarized in a graph: that 85% of Internet users use «ten languages» (English, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, French, German, Portuguese, Korean, Italian and Arabic). And it established two groups of languages ​​to translate from English according to the importance of the document: the group of ten (the other nine plus the Russian) and the group of five (Chinese, Spanish, French, Arabic and Russian) ).

Top ten Facebook languages ​​in May 2010

Top ten Facebook languages ​​in May 2010

The 25 nations with the most Facebook users in September 2011

on Facebook
Nation Millions accounts
September 2011
Last year increase
everybody 712.4 42.9%
1 U.S 154.6 15.4%
2 Indonesia 40.1 44.4%
3 India 34.6 162.4%
4 Turkey 30.3 27.1%
5 United Kingdom 30.0 8.0%
6 Mexico 28.5 83.9%
7 Philippines 26.2 61.7%
8 Brazil 25.8 327.1%
9 France 22.6 17.2%
10 Germany 20,7 87.3%
11 Italy 19,1 14.5%
12 Glen 16.7 1.3%
13 Argentina 16.2 40.2%
14 Colombia 15.3 37.4%
15 Spain 14.4 30.3%
16 Thailand 11.9 131.7%
17 Malaysia 11.5 41.2%
18 Taiwan 10.9 53.1%
19 Australia 10.5 10.6%
20 Venezuela 9.3 29.8%
21 Chile 8.9 20.4%
22 Egypt 8.3 104.1%
23 Peru 6.9 125.7%
24 Poland 6.7 101.0%
25 Pakistan 5.2 108.6%


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