You will no doubt be asking, into which language(s) does your documentation or website need to be translated? Do you know which language(s) to invest in, to assure the long-term future of your business? Consult this list of the most popular languages for the market:
We can determine three different ways of looking at it:
No surprise here! Of course, English is the most common language on the internet. In 2020, it represented 59.6 % of all content (https://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_language andhttps://www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm) and more than 25 % of internet users..
To understand these statistics, one must separate the percentage of content (articles, web pages, websites) from the number of users (that is to say, those who use a particular language when navigating the web).
The ratings vary greatly once this separation is applied: in terms of content, Russian is in second position. However, Chinese (in all its dialects) will certainly soon overtake the number of English-speaking users, with nearly 19% of all internet users. Then comes Spanish (7.9 %), Arabic (5.2 %) and… Indonesian! With more than 4.3 % of internet users, it leads Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal, 3.7 %) and French (3.3 %). It is important to note that the top ten languages cover more than 76 % of all internet traffic!
One more remarkable fact, we can find German, Turkish, Persian (Farsi) and Japanese amongst the top ten languages providing the most web content (https://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_language). However, this list needs further clarification: it can be explained by the ability of these countries to localise their content into their maternal language.
The domination of English, across the internet, whether it involves the quantity of content or the number of users, may not last: the use of other languages, such as Chinese, Hindi and the majority of other major Asian languages, is growing exponentially, and will certainly overtake English.
These changes confirm the trends: internet users need the content in their maternal language, and access to digital services is democratising across the whole world.
However, English remains the preferred language for business.
As has been the case for several years, and if you work within an international company, you cannot have failed to notice that English remains preponderant across business. If two people with different maternal languages wish to communicate, the pivotal language will instinctively be English. This is confirmed in the following study, from 2018 https://medium.com/swlh/10-most-important-business-languages-in-global-market-17b49b7cf2d2 de 2018.
Followed again by Chinese, Spanish, German and Portuguese. French is losing ground (7th), as opposed to Arabic (6th), Russian and Hindi (respectively in 9th and 10th positions), which remain countries with booming business sectors. This Top 10 list is completed by Japanese, in 8th position.
Other interesting information, if you are attempting to sell your products by the Internet (according to the Common Sense Advisory), you should be aware that English, Japanese and German are the languages representing the greatest on-line purchasing power.
In summary, in no particular order, the essential languages in the world of business today are: English, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese and Hindi.
Third point, and by no means the least important: which languages are the most commonly spoken around the world?
Once again, everything depends on your point of view. If one takes the number of people speaking their maternal language, or one of its related dialects, Chinese (1.2 billion) wins the day. Spanish (400 million) and English (360 million) make up the podium (https://fr.babbel.com/fr/magazine/les-10-langues-les-plus-parlees-au-monde). ). Bengali (7th, 170 million speakers) and Punjabi (10th, 100 million) find themselves in this Top 10, due to their demographics, as does Hindi, in 4th place on this list.
In contrast, if one uses the number of people who actually speak a language (maternal or second language: https://www.ethnologue.com/guides/ethnologue200), English still leads, above Chinese, Hindi and Spanish. In this particular case, French is in 5th place (due to the numbers of speakers, notably in Africa), whereas it has not even reached the Top 10 for maternal languages!
So, which piece of data has surprised you most?
If you have any question about the strategy to be used in order to meet and produce the contents required for your international market, please don’t hesitate in contacting us, using firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can discuss things further.