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I'm developing a large chat application; the public beta had over sixty-five thousand participants, so I need the final version to be complete. Hence I am asking this question. My application needs to work in all the languages that I can expect my visitors to see it in. I want to cover (most) of the written/read languages of countries that have internet.

With some research; I've compiled the following list: (In the order I should prioritize translating my application into it. Bold indicates a completed translation.)

  • English
  • Japanese
  • Lithuanian
  • Chinese (Vernacular?)
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • Arabic
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian (?)
  • Russian
  • German
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  • Totally off-topic. This would be maybe on-topic for Linguistics. – JSBձոգչ Nov 12 '11 at 13:33
  • @JSBᾶngs You have ~3k Rep, why not move the topic? I can't (obviously). – cbroughton Nov 12 '11 at 16:05
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    I'm not sure this question is on topic here, either. Let's see what other users have to say... – Otavio Macedo Nov 13 '11 at 0:06
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    @cbroughton We still aren't on a safe side regarding what is on topic and what is not. This question is a bit ambiguous to me, that's why I didn't close it right away. – Alenanno Nov 14 '11 at 8:53
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    It's an interesting question but not a linguistics question. It's about demographics, Internet, languages, and quite possibly internationalization and/or localization. I would suggest asking it as an example question on the new I18N & L10N proposal on Area51 whether or not it stays open here. – hippietrail Nov 14 '11 at 17:36
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It sounds to me like what you really need to understand is: which language will the likely users of your application be using?

As a starting point, here's a list of the most common languages used online:

http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm

(The design may be horrible, but the data seems pretty legitimate).

Additionally, this report lists the countries with the greatest engagement with instant messaging:

enter image description here

Chinese - topping both lists - should be your priority. The language used online in China is vernacular written Chinese (based on Mandarin). It would be very unusual to see 'Traditional Chinese' in a web interface.

Although India is #2 in IM use, the majority of Indian web user's use English. Hindi is still rare online (source).

Thus, I would suggest Portuguese and Spanish as your next priority, to capture a large section of the South American user-base (as well as a portion of European users).

Russian and Arabic - which has seen the largest growth in internet usage over the past decade (source) - German, Japanese would all be valid additions.

Incidentally, if you're translating common UI elements, take a look at the Pootle Terminology project, and Microsoft's UI translations.

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  • Luckily, I am blessed with connections enough to have my UI translated frequently (in parts) during the development of my application by native language speakers (with the exception of a few ... "different" languages.) Would you say that the languages I have listed are sufficient? – cbroughton Nov 13 '11 at 1:12
  • Don't forget the North American Spanish speaking user-base - the biggest Spanish speaking country in the world is there! – hippietrail Nov 13 '11 at 12:32
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For users outside of Europe, I'd add French and Malay.

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  • @MarkBeadles admittedly it is a substandard answer, but it's not a comment or request for clarification; it attempts to answer the question by suggesting languages other than those already named in the question. – user483 Oct 18 '12 at 16:59
  • Fair enough! :) – Mark Beadles Oct 18 '12 at 17:14
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I agree with Alex Peattie: # of websites in a language does not always correlate with # of users of software in the language. Having said that, http://googleresearch.blogspot.com/2011/07/languages-of-world-wide-web.html might give you some ideas about what languages are most popular online. The data is from Google's researchers, and so, ought to be trustworthy.

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