I studied International Business and Spanish at university. Why Spanish? Because I liked it, I wasn’t half bad at it and I thought it might come in handy somewhere down the line. Lucky for me, my chances of that happening are slightly raised because Spanish is the official language of 21 countries with around 400 million speakers worldwide, making it the third most widely spoken language across the globe after English and Chinese.
According to a study published last year, Spanish is the third language of international communication on the Internet.
Following my initial paragraph, that doesn’t sound out of place or surprising. However in reality, this third place position actually means that only 4% of Internet users communicate in Spanish, which corresponds to just 136 million users out of a total of 1750 million.
Obviously this figure now seems a lot lower than it should be when bearing in mind the high numbers of Spanish speakers internationally. So why the discrepancy? Many Latin American countries have low levels of access to technological developments and the study concluded by saying that if this were similar to that of English speakers then the presence of Spanish on the Internet would be around 16%. Improvements are being made though as Spanish did actually see a 1% rise.
English held the top spot in the study with 45% of Internet users’ communication and German came in at number 2 with 6%. French and Italian also figured in the top 5.
What’s really interesting to note is that English suffered a huge 29% fall, which has been attributed to the rise in the use of Chinese, Arabic and Russian on the Internet as these economies and markets develop.
So the importance of different languages on the Internet today is obvious – English can no longer be assumed to be the only language that matters, and catering for these differences will be a key issue in the success of businesses in the coming years as more and more non-English speaking users come online, and I for one, les doy la bienvenida.
19 January 2011 17:14