29 October 2012
Researchers have been analysing the Twitter traffic in London, to identify which languages people are tweeting in. English still accounts for nine out of ten tweets in London, but the research also reveals many other languages communicating across the capital.
Click to hear the report
This was an independent project at University College London. For six months, researchers captured London's twittersphere, as sent by GPS telephones and tablets, and used a computer programme to identify which languages they were in; that's 3.3 million tweets in a total of 66 languages. 92.5% were in English, but the fascinating detail comes in the analysis of the non-English portion.
The biggest presence was of Spanish language tweets, followed by French, Turkish, Arabic, Portuguese and German. The map created also shows where in London the tweets were sent. The pre-eminence of Spanish tweeting may, in part, be due to the recent influx of young Spaniards seeking work, as well of course as London's resident Latin American population. That French was the next most tweeted language reflects the fact that there are an estimated third of a million French people living in London, but also that they're often younger and more likely to be Twitter users.
Less obvious languages which registered included Basque and Haitian Creole. Early research seemed to throw up a large amount of Tagalog, the language of the Philippines. But it turned out the computer programme was wrongly identifying text-friendly terms such as 'ha ha ha' and 'lol, lol, lol'.
Click to hear the vocabulary
people using the social networking site, Twitter, in a particular place
- GPS (Global Positioning System)
small, portable computers
dominance, surpassing all others
arrival of large numbers
- to throw up
'text language' for 'laughing out loud'