Les Tweets 3


You’re a person of the world. You can flourish in any culture. One day, you’re chatting it up with your buddies in Boston. The next night, you’re discussing the finer points of architecture in Spanish in Barcelona. The day after, you’re wooing foreign directors in Cannes.  Good thing you’re able to tweet in multiple languages.

Twitter and other micro-blogging sites that were originally huge in the States are undergoing a rapid transformation that is paralleling a much larger internet trend: it’s becoming less Anglophone.

A recent study indicated “unique” Twitter users based in the U.S. decreased from 62 percent in June of 2009 to just over 50 percent in January 2011. Who then is taking charge of the Twitterverse?

It turns out the Dutch are not only great at brewing beer and making chocolate, they’re also phenomenal tweeters. The study pointed out that just over 22 percent of the entire Netherlands’ online population is using Twitter. Coming in right on their tail are the Brazilians with just under 22 percent. Indonesia ranks in at 19 percent. So, where’s the U.S.? Oh that’s right, coming up strong with about 8 percent of our online population engaging on Twitter. Being no statiscian, it’s pretty safe to assume that out of the 200 million+ tweets generated a day, many are not in English.

But what languages are now taking charge? Google’s Compact Language Dector (CLD) embedded in the Chrome browser can tell you what language the web page you’re on was originally written in. In a brilliant move of late-night decision making, Mike McCandless extracted this software and a guy named Eric Fischer applied it to Twitter.

The map above shows a sweet aerial shot of Europe and where people are tweeting. That’s cool and all, but the coolest information we can derive from it is what language people are typing in. For example, Belgium tweets in Dutch and French, and Switzerland tweets mainly in German with a smidge of French sprinkled in.

Some areas are all sorts of unexpected. Catalans, for example, tweet in their own language and not in Spanish. German seems to make up a large portion of Central Europe, but out of nowhere, a large portion of Austria seems to be tweeting in Italian – as do multiple dots in France.

Wondering what the U.S. looks like? It’s straight forward English with a few exceptions along the Tex-Mex border where Spanish is the language of choice, and also around St. Lawrence where a strong contingent of French makes an appearance.

That’s fascinating and all, but I’m interested in the blue Danish dot in the Jordanian desert, why no one is tweeting in Lithuania, and if Spanish is becoming the dominant language in Bermuda.

 


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