New map highlights best languages for spreading ideas

Global Trends, Languages12 January 20154k

A fascinating new study has resulted in the creation of an interactive map that highlights the best languages to use if you want to spread your ideas across the globe.

Microsoft program manager Shahar Ronen came up with the idea during his master's thesis at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, when he began to wonder how multilingual people are able to transmit information using the internet.

Together with colleagues from Harvard University, Northeastern University and Aix-Marseille University, he outlined three global language networks which were based on bilingual tweets, multilingual Wikipedia edits and book translations.

He then used this information to create a map akin to a spider diagram, with lines linking each network according to strength – you can check out the map here.

It was found that English has the most transmissions to and from other languages, according to the study report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, but there were also lots of intermediate hubs including German and French.

Interestingly, Dutch was highlighted as an especially large conduit for information despite the fact that it is only spoken by 27 million people. This was attributed to Dutch people spending large amounts of time online and also being typically multilingual.

However, another surprising finding was that languages like Mandarin and Arabic are not as good at reaching speakers of other tongues elsewhere, even though they have millions of native speakers.

In fact, while the western world increasingly deals with China for business purposes, the study authors discovered that it is more effective to spread written ideas using Spanish.

Ronen et al suggested the study's results could be especially useful for governments across the world, as well as communities that want to interact more effectively with their counterparts in other nations.

"If I want my national language to be more prominent, then I should invest in translating more documents, encouraging more people to tweet in their national language. On the other side, if I want our ideas to spread, we should pick a second language that's very well connected," Ronen concluded. 

Fortunately, you don't have to worry too much about what language to translate your business campaigns into if you make the most of localization services such as those from EQHO. We are able to convert everything from videos and tweets to important documents into Asian, European, Middle Eastern and many more tongues, all using teams of native speakers.

That should ensure your ideas spread worldwide – and hopefully influence your target audiences as intended.


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As experts in Asian localization and translation services, with more 20 years of experience, EQHO is the ideal choice. To find out more about how localization can benefit your business, or to get started, contact us today.

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