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The Multilingual InternetLanguage, Culture, and Communication Online$
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Brenda Danet and Susan C. Herring

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304794

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304794.001.0001

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How Much Multilingualism?

How Much Multilingualism?

Language Diversity on the Internet

(p.408) 18 How Much Multilingualism?
The Multilingual Internet

John C. Paolillo

Oxford University Press

Linguistic diversity on the Internet is often said to be increasing, particularly by marketing research groups seeking to identify global trends in Internet business. This chapter addresses how well such statements reflect the reality of global linguistic diversity and online multilingualism, by applying a statistical index of diversity based on the notion of entropy. A comparison of the indexes for the marketing data and for global and regional demographics, as reported in the Ethnologue, shows that marketers’ statements both overstate Internet linguistic diversity and underestimate global linguistic diversity. Internet language diversity is similar to that seen in a typical South East Asian country, and is hundreds of times less than global linguistic diversity. Moreover, Internet resources are concentrated in the US and Europe, where linguistic diversity is very low. Indications are that Internet linguistic diversity is stabilizing at this modest level, rather than increasing, as has been previously suggested.

Keywords:   Ethnologue, Internet use statistics, language diversity, linguistic diversity, marketing, regional differences

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