Popularity of Languages for the Lingual Site Versions Among Companies From Forbes Global 2000

by Julia Litvin

Selection of language versions on Facebook.com 

Having a multilingual website for companies oriented to a global audience will continue to be a necessity as the process of internationalization unfolds.

English speakers represent about 25% of the online population. While, according to W3Techs, 51% of the content available online is in English.

– Internet World Stats

But what languages to use for multilingual website versions? 

Does the variety of languages used by companies from Global Forbes 2000 correlate with the list of the most popular languages used on the Internet? 

Here are the key findings from our research on multilingual websites' popularity among The World's Largest Public Companies 2017 according to Forbes magazine:

Only 48% of the first 1000 companies from “Forbes Global 2000” list propose to select the language on their main website.*

*‘main website’ refers to the Global or International website’s versions, or, if such were absent, to the website of the headquartered country.

Certainly, all of them have English version.

After English, the most common languages in the selection are Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, Korean, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic and Russian.

Chart Most Common Languages Available for Selection from Forbes Global 2000*

Popularity Of Languages For The Lingual Site Versions Among Companies From Forbes Global 2000 3

*among the first 1000 companies from 2000


How to interpret the chart:

English is used by 100% of all the companies, which have the language selection on their International/Global website version. 

The Chinese version is proposed by 38% of all the companies with language selection.

Languages Preferred by Forbes Global Companies VS Internet Users by Language

Popularity Of Languages For The Lingual Site Versions Among Companies From Forbes Global 2000 5


World Internet Stats

Statistics show that just with ten languages - English, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, Malay, Japanese, French and German, you can reach and communicate with 77.9% of all the Internet users in the world8.

Top ten languages in the internet in millions of users - March 2017

Popularity Of Languages For The Lingual Site Versions Among Companies From Forbes Global 2000 6

Internet World Stats


According to our research, the Malay language is proposed for selection only in 0.4% of all language selectors (despite on the 6th place in the Top 10 Languages Used in the Web rank5) as well as Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Filipino, Kurdish, Persian, Punjabi, Somali, Ukrainian, Urdu.

One of the fastest growing content languages since 1 July 2017 are Russian and Portuguese

– W3Techs

Portuguese is the 7th most widely spoken language in the world1 and is the 5th from Top 10 Languages in the internet5.The demand for Portuguese is growing. Although Portuguese has always been an important world language, only recently it has been recognized as an important language for business and international relations.

Among the first 1000 companies from the Forbes Global 2000 list, only 6% of those who provide the language selection on their main website, propose the website version in the Portuguese language.

Value of Translation in Russian Language

Russian speaking countries show the low proficiency in English2 - around 49%, which can indicate that translating of the business content into Russian might have an importance for doing an international business.

Russian is the 8th most commonly used language5 and the 2nd most used in website content*, after English7.

* The content language of a website is the natural language of the text on the site (W3Techs)

Among the first 1000 companies from the Forbes Global 2000 list, only 5% of those who provide the language selection on their main website, can propose the website version in the Russian language.

Most countries of The Middle East and Latin America have the lowest proficiency in English (less than 50%).

– The EF English Proficiency Index

Arabic is the official language of the Middle East. 

 It is the fourth most widely spoken language in the world1. Many Arabians don’t speak other languages than Arabic. 

The Middle East represents a fast-growing market and is amongst the fastest growing regions by internet use. Therefore, it is important to have your online content translated into Arabic to make business products easily accessible for the Arabic speaking world.

Among the first 1000 companies from the Forbes Global 2000 list, only 5% of those who provide the language selection on their website, propose their clients to select the Arabic language.

Spanish is spoken as the 1st language for about 60% of the Latin America’s population4.

Spanish is the 2nd most widely spoken language in the world after Chinese and the 3rd biggest language of the internet

– Top Ten Internet Languages

The importance of the Spanish language is undeniable. Businesses can’t ignore 527 million of consumers, who speak Spanish, from around the world3

The increasing buying power of this group creates a market, that is too attractive to overlook. Spanish is extremely important for the translation, particularly, because it is so widely spoken. And the language will only continue to grow.

Among the first 1000 companies from the Forbes Global 2000 list, only 16% of those who provide the language selection on the main website, have their website version in Spanish language.

Companies’ websites from the Forbes Global show the lowest usage of the next language versions: 

3% - Swedish, Turkish 

2%- Indonesian, Hindi, Polish, Thai

1% - Dutch, Vietnamese, Czech, Finnish, Norwegian 

0.8% - Danish 

0.6% - Greek, Hungarian, Romanian 

0.2% - Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic, Armenian, Assamese, Azerbaijani, Basque, Belarusian, Bosnian, Breton, Burmese, Cebuano, Corsican, Croatian, Estonian, Faroese, Frisian, Fula, Galician, Georgian, Guarani, Gujarati, Hausa, Hebrew, Icelandic, Irish, Kannada, Kazakh, Khmer, Kinyarwanda, Kurdish, Lao, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malagasy, Macedonian, Malayalam, Maltese, Marathi, Mongolian, Nepali, Oriya, Pashto, Sardinian, Serbian, Silesian, Sinhala, Slovak, Sorani, Slovenian, Swahili, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamazight, Tamil, Telugu, Uzbek, Welsh.

References

  1. Summary by language size | Ethnologue www.ethnologue.com
  2. EF English Proficiency Index - A comprehensive ranking of countries by English skills www.ef.co.uk
  3. Spanish | Ethnologue www.ethnologue.com
  4. Latin America - Wikipedia  en.wikipedia.org
  5. Top Ten Internet Languages - World Internet Statistics www.internetworldstats.com
  6. W3Techs - extensive and reliable web technology surveys w3techs.com
  7. Usage Statistics and Market Share of Content Languages for Websites, August 2017 w3techs.com
  8. World Languages - Countries A to G - Internet World Stats www.internetworldstats.com
  9. Featured Images: Pixabay pixabay.com

Check our slide presentation:

Popularity of languages for the lingual site versions among companies from Forbes Global 2000