Translation musings: the language of Twitter

Feb 18, 2014 | Translation

Twitter birdWe translate many things, large and small – from emails to books and from food labels to Patient Information leaflets. One thing we have never been asked to translate, however (and so far!), is tweets!

Although English is the most popular language used, the majority of the tweeters are not using their mother tongue. And you might be surprised at the most popular languages. According to, the top ten languages used (data from November 2013) were:

English                       34%
Japanese                   16%
Spanish                      12%
Malay                          8%
Portuguese                 6%
Arabic                         6%
French                        2%
Turkish                       2%
Thai                            1%
Korean                       1%
Other                         12%

Interestingly, around half of the world’s tweeters live in just five countries – the USA, Japan, Indonesia, the UK and Brazil, with almost a quarter being US based.

One language not mentioned in the list is Latin, but the Pope’s Latin twitter account is turning out to be an unexpected success with over 200,000 followers! Who says Latin is a dead language?

Sources: mashable, peerreach, The Telegraph