The Global Language Network

Translation Big Data Mapped in New Study

What are the most influential languages in the world? Researchers at MIT, led by César Hidalgo, set out to answer that question.

How would you even begin?  They began with books, Wikipedia, and Twitter and then mapped the number of translations between languages.  [Ed Note: Why not videos and movies??]  The researchers were rigorous in weeding out commercial tweets, bot generated content, sales/marketing messages, etc.  Translations were used as a metric for the greatest ability to reach other people and thereby influence them.

The hub languages?  English turned out to be the largest hub for information translated from one language into another in all three data sets. Other languages including Russian, German, and Spanish also serve as hubs to other languages.  It should be remembered that these are not based on number of speakers or even who is doing the writing – it is based on the number of translations.

“Of the many languages that have ever been spoken, only a few of them have been able to achieve global prominence, they have been important enough to become a global language,” Hidalgo told Serious Science.

The results and details are beautifully laid out on the interactive website:  The Global Language Network.   Be forewarned that you might get in there and not get out for quite a while.

Screen shots below.

The Wikipedia Data Set

twitter

The Twitter Data Set

books

The Books Data Set

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