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Media (R)evolutions: The internet and the death of languages

Roxanne Bauer's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

A large body of evidence shows that affordable and effective broadband connectivity is vital to economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. Nevertheless, while internet access has spread around the world and many more people now have access, certain barriers still exist— like language.

Today, only a fraction of world languages– an estimated 5% (by number of languages)– is present on the Internet, according to The State of Broadband 2015, a report by the Broadband Commission. English continues to dominate the web, and around 54.5% of all web content is still in English despite huge growth in users that do not understand that language or who prefer to access content in their native languages. According to analysis of the most popular 10 million websites by W3techs, after English, the most common languages are Russian (5.9%), German (5.7%), Japanese (5.0%), and Spanish (4.7%). Moreover, a significant of languages (such as Hindi and Swahili) are used by less than 0.1% of these websites, and most of the world’s languages are not represented at all in their data.

Languages used on the Internet

In 1996, when the Internet was just getting started in the public domain, more than 80% of Internet users were native English speakers. By 2010, that percentage dropped to 27.3%. While the number of English-speaking Internet users has increased since 2000, it has not kept pace with the growth seen in other languages. Twelve times as many people in China use the Internet now as in 1996, and growth is even more dramatic in the Arabic- speaking world, where twenty-five times as many people are online now as in 1996. So the question remains, why does the English language dominate online content in the face of such statistics that show much faster growth in countries where English is not the dominant language?

Beyond the web, over a third of the approximate 7,100 languages spoken today are in danger of disappearing. Ethnologue reports that 1,519 languages are "in trouble" and 915 are considered to be "dying".  They project that the world loses six languages per year.

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Source: The State of Broadband 2015 by the Broadband Commission


Submitted by Pawan Upadhyay on

Respected sir,you can choose your language through language option
on internet.Internet is the most essential part
of our life.

Submitted by Suhruta on

Good data but the point that Hindi is National Lamguage is factually incorrect. The Constitution of India does not accord any Indian language the tag of 'Nationa Language.' Please rectify this mistake in your blog.

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