Most tweets are now not in English
The reports we produce for clients have consistently been showing a trend for more and more tweets not being in English, and now we have overall empirical evidence to back this up: research by Semiocast found that over 60% of tweets between May 2010 and the end of October 2011 were in languages other than English.
It’s important to note this is despite Chinese tweets barely even registering on the spectrum – Twitter is still banned in China and less than 0.5% of tweets are in Chinese. Also, my colleagues in São Paulo would be upset if I didn’t point out that Portuguese is the third-most used language, due to its burgeoning use in Brazil.
But what has been most interesting to see is how Twitter use has increased in conjunction with the Arab Spring. As the Jerusalem Post highlighted, Arabic use of Twitter has increased 22-fold over the last year, to now be the 8th-most used language on Twitter. Particularly remarkable as Arabic hashtags are only supported by the mobile version of Twitter.