wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost2
Posted at 12:24 PM ET, 11/08/2011

Twitter is a polyglot (map)

Mapping geotagging whiz kid Eric Fischer has a new map out that shows what languages are being spoken where on Twitter around the world, and it’s a beauty. A snapshot of Europe and Asia:


(Image via Eric Fischer Flickr stream)
It also has a lot to tell us. Using language detection software to gather its data, Big Think says the big takeaway from the map is that, like the Internet, Twitter is “becoming less American, and less Anglophone.” (English is represented on the map in gray.) According to Big Think, 62 percent of Twitter’s ‘unique users’ were U.S.-based in June 2009; that number fell to just over 50 percent in January 2010.

The Europe section of the map also shows that tweets in Western Europe are much more concentrated than those in Eastern Europe. In Russia, for example, tweets seems to only come from the big hub cities.

A look at the full world map tells us more — Twitter power-user Indonesia is super bright, along with Japan and South Korea (a quick glance at the world trending terms on Twitter most days will tell you the same.) Despite the presence of Twitter in the Arab Spring, the Middle East appears spotty. As the the Atlantic Wire points out , big dark spots appear in countries like Egypt and Pakistan, which have had crackdowns on Twitter before. As for Africa, it hardly shows up at all:


(Image via Eric Fischer Flickr stream)

As far as languages, whose color key you can view better when you see the map full size, the map makes a few interesting points — the 12 million Catalans who tweet in their own language instead of Spanish are clearly represented in lime green; there appears to be a lack of people tweeting in Ukrainian and Lithuanian; and for some reason, a big part of Australia is tweeting in Italian.

Fischer’s map doesn’t include indigenous language tweets, which are tiny in number but can be found here. Read more about Fischer, whose maps have become a “national art sensation,” here.

By  |  12:24 PM ET, 11/08/2011

Tags:  World, Twitter, languages

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company