New study: Most of Twitter doesn’t speak English

Less than 4 in 10 tweets are written in English now. Arabic is the fastest-growing language lately.


Fernando Alfonso III

Internet Culture

Published Nov 28, 2011   Updated Jun 3, 2021, 12:55 am CDT

English is no longer the majority language on Twitter, while Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese are growing fast.

A new study from Semiocast, a French social media research organization, has found that in October 2011, about 39 percent of tweets (more than 70 million messages) were in English, down from 50 percent in July 2010.

The study analyzed 5.6 billion tweets between July 1 and Oct. 31. During this time period, Semiocast found that more than two million tweets were in Arabic, which is a huge increase from the 30,000 tweets studied last year.

This increase in Arabic tweets should cam as no surprise: Millions of Middle Easterners have been using the microblogging tool to communicate with each other and with the outside world during the Arab Spring protests.

Arabic is now the eighth-most-used language on Twitter, even though Arabic is not among the 17 languages officially supported by Twitter, reported the study. (In 2008,, a third-party website, began providing an Arabic-language interface for the service.)

Spanish is now the fourth-most-used language on Twitter, growing from 4 to 8 percent. About 15 million tweets per day are in Spanish. Spanish trending topics are regularly seen in the U.S., especially during big events like the MTV Video Music Brazil Awards and Anonymous hacker activity in Mexico.

Japanese is the second-largest language used on Twitter, and the first language besides English that Twitter officially embraced, but this number “has been slowly decreasing from more than 19% mid-2010 to 14.2% in October 2011,” reported the study. About 26 million tweets are made each day in Japanese.

And if it weren’t for Twitter being banned in China, chances are the world’s most populated country would certainly rank near the top of the list. Chinese people are instead forced to use social networks like Sina Weibo to communicate.

Here’s the chart showing the growth and evolution in language usage on Twitter:


Photo by kopp0041; chart by Semiocast

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*First Published: Nov 28, 2011, 2:24 pm CST