In an increasingly digital world, communication serves as the currency that drives global interconnectivity. Professionals across various disciplines face a significant challenge – understanding how to communicate effectively online amid a multitude of languages. In this context, linguistic discrepancies become a key factor shaping our interactions online and defining how we connect in this diverse digital realm.
Before delving into analysis, graphs, and data, we must grasp the topic. It’s not possible to quantify exactly how many languages exist in the world, but the latest study from the Ethnologue journal determines that there are a total of 7.139 living languages.
The above image illustrates the richness of alphabets and writing systems worldwide. Some are read from right to left, and these contrasts impact online communication globally. This visual representation clearly reflects linguistic discrepancies, both graphically and phonetically. It not only showcases the multiplicity of alphabets used in different languages but also reveals peculiarities such as right-to-left reading in some writing systems. These differences are crucial for understanding how languages influence online communication in a digital world.
HOW ARE LANGUAGES DISTRIBUTED IN THE WORLD?
If we talk about the most “official” language globally, undoubtedly, English takes the lead. Spoken in 67 countries, it is official in most international entities. French follows as the official in most Northern African countries, France, and Canada. Next is Arabic, official in Islamic countries, and then Spanish, spoken in all Hispanic countries and some regions of Antarctica.
However, officiality doesn’t necessarily mean the most widespread language but the most accepted. The graph, created with Ethnologue data, shows that English is one of the least used languages by native speakers, in contrast to Chinese, which dominates among native speakers.
From this graph, it can be inferred that English is the most necessary language as it is the most standardized. While Chinese is the most spoken native language, it is not as concerning to learn as English, French, or Hindi.
DOES THE LINGUISTIC DISTRIBUTION CORRESPOND ON THE INTERNET?
According to the latest edition of the Digital Report, conducted in 2023 by the agency We Are Social, 64.4% of the total world population has internet access. Out of the over 8 billion people in the world, 5.16 billion can connect to the internet and communicate with any part of the world.
The table shows the most used languages in the world and on the internet based on the number of speakers.
As expected, English is the most used language on the internet. However, Chinese, widely spoken globally, ranks below even Persian, which has fewer than 9% of speakers.
This study confirms that English is the dominant language globally, both spoken and on the internet—these being the two main communication channels.
If we arrange the graph by the percentage of language usage on the internet, we find some interesting results.
Some curious results include the absence of Chinese from the table, not among the top 10 most used languages on the internet.
As well as the scarcity of non-European languages, except for Japanese. The change in the alphabet may be the reason for this, as most use Latin or Cyrillic.
Another curiosity is that, except for Spanish and Portuguese, there are more internet users than speakers. Except for languages less used on the internet, such as Hindi, the fifth most spoken language in the world.
WHAT ARE THE DATA IN SPAIN?
As we know, Spain has five official languages – Spanish, Catalan (including Valencian and Balearic), Galician, Basque, and Aranese (spoken by fewer than 3,000 people today).
According to W3Schools, Catalan represents 0.1% of websites, more than Norwegian or Hindi. Moreover, in a year, the number of pages in this language has almost doubled, especially with the .cat domain.
When exploring Galician and Basque, data is lacking. They represent less than 0.1% of all existing websites currently. There is no data on pages made or, at least, translated into these languages, except for state websites.
THE WORLD AT A CLICK’S REACH
In summary, as we venture into an increasingly digital world, linguistic diversity and its discrepancies emerge as a reflection of the complexity of global communication. As we navigate this digital world, it is essential to consider how languages shape our interactions online and how we can adapt to this linguistic diversity.
Ultimately, communication is the bond that unites us in this global network, regardless of the language we use. Understanding and respecting linguistic differences enriches our digital world and allows us to connect with more people and cultures.
Elio San Martín Gallart – Software developer at Itequia