Arabic tweets explode with +2000% growth this year

Krystal Peak · November 25, 2011 · Short URL:

Twitter study shows English, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Malay still top languages for the site

Tweets are posted to Twitter in dozens, if not hundreds of languages and dialects, but the fastest growth on the microblogging site is in Arabic. More than two million Arabic public posts went onto Twitter last month, up from 30,000 in July of 2010, according to a Semicast study released Thursday afternoon.

While Arabic doesn't even break into the top five languages used on Twitter, the volume of Arabic messages has grown more than 2000% over the last year, making it the 8th most used language on Twitter.

For the month of October, the five languages seen most on Twitter were: English, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Malay.

The study used both language-recognition software and geo-location tags to determine the language used in more than 5.6 billion tweets for this year-long study.

The rapid adoption of Twitter by Arabic-speaking individuals can, in part, be attributed to the success seen in using the service during the Arabic Spring uprising, while other Internet services were challenging to access or update. Twitter created modes of updating via cell phone and text services that helped keep the world informed about the political and social revolutions taking place in countries such as Syria and Tunisia (where nearly 90% of the population speak Arabic.)

But even though tweets in Arabic have grown astronomically, the Twitter website (which is currently translated into 17 languages) is not yet available in Arabic.

English is still the most common language on Twitter, with 39% of public messages posted in some iteration of English -- more than 70 million tweets per day.

Over the last year, the volume of English tweets nearly tripled but because of the growth in other languages, the percentage of English tweets has remained within 35-40% since last October.

Tweets in Japanese may be the second most common, but the share of Japanese tweets decreased from 19% mid-2010 to 14.2% last month -- the second slowest language growth, after Korean.

Surprisingly, Portuguese has maintained the third most common language spot, edging out Spanish (which is the second most-commonly natively spoken language in the world). Spanish comprises 8% of the tweets and Portuguese holds steady with 12%.

Due to the continued Twitter ban in effect, less than 0.5% of all tweets are in Chinese -- 520,000 per day.  Those in China that wish to participate in microblogging have turned to the Chinese companies in the market such as the commonly used Weibo. Semiocast has charted that Weibo's popularity has grown tremendously and that 20% of all micro-messages for queries on global luxury, retail, tourism and transport brands direct to Weibo.

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