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Astute language selection helps maximise global reach

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in Language Connect

Twitter recently announced that their social networking service is now available in five new languages bringing the total number of available languages to 17. Users can now tweet in Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Hindi, Filipino and Malay. Twitter’s announcement also made a mention of a number of other languages that will be added to their Translation Centre, an online crowdsourcing hub, for eventual availability.

Like many other online utilities, the growing support for various languages on Twitter is an indicator of how important it has become to offer a multilingual website. In order to increase global reach, website availability in languages that have a sizeable internet user base is now a necessity. Language selection, however, is also based upon the popularity of a specific product or service in foreign language markets. Twitter and other social networks have based their language selection upon the population of native speakers online and their sites’ existing popularity within that specific demographic.

So far, Twitter has localised its micro-blogging service in all the major languages used online. It is now moving on to languages that will allow it to target specific regions that have low internet penetration at the moment. The selection of Hindi is an example of this approach whereby Twitter aims to target the non-English speaking population of India, which vastly outweighs its English speaking population. With continued improvements in the telecommunications infrastructure and the resulting increase in online population, selection of Hindi is an astute move to target a sizable number of web users in India.

The continual growth of languages on the internet is altering the way companies use the web to engage with a global audience. Just a decade ago, languages apart from English were non-existent on the web, but with rapid growth worldwide, web users have been bestowing it with local features. The business world is now taking heed and following user demand of offering localized content.

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