Chinese Internet users' growth in the last 10 years
I don't believe the catchy title for a minute (that we will be required to learn Chinese in order to use the Internet), but the growth of Chinese users is staggering. From 2008 to 2010, almost 200 million new users. The total number of Chinese users almost doubled in that period.
Here's the graph zoomed out:
johnbDecember 30, 2010, 12:47 AM
I don't believe the title hype either, but I do think that not knowing Chinese will exclude you from an increasingly large amount of great content on the internet. An interesting trend that I'm seeing is that, when Chinese businesspeople call, say, Europe or North America, they just default to English, but when they call Korea or Japan, the party being called will often find someone in their office that speaks Chinese. I suspect that online, at least for countries that have been the recipients of Chinese culture for the last couple thousand years, Chinese will become an increasingly viable interchange language (in addition to English, though, not as a replacement, at least not yet).
Yes.. until the language is dominant enough in the other countries, this is going to continue. Sydney has one of the largest populations per capita of Chinese people in Australia, yet the ability to speak mandarin or even cantonese is not seen as a plus in any job.. it's not even considered as a "skill" in many regards.. it's more of a "oh.. you speak Chinese.. that's nice (but totally irrelevant)". This needs to change..
I am trying to understand your point here. Are you saying that Chinese speakers should be more valued in Sydney because of the scope for dealing in Chinese with say Chinese speaking suppliers or customers, say from the mainland? Because Australia does so much business with China etc. Sounds reasonable.
I think that Chinese is valued, and Sydney has such a large pool of native Chinese speakers (who also speak English) that employers have no trouble finding expertise in Chinese.
I guess I have worked in Sydney for 25 years plus - I can't remember a work place that I worked in that didn't have a native Chinese speaker. Where there is a business reason employers do hire Chinese speakers. Of course, most are not hired specifically for their language skills, they just happen to have valuable skills.
kaixin_in_tampaDecember 30, 2010, 04:03 AM
Yes I think it is great to learn Chinese anyway because of the Chinese people. In terms of Internet content, mostly they seem to have their own versions of Western websites, i.e., Tudou and Youku in lieu of Youtube, plus whatever are the equivalents of Facebook, Twitter, etc. So 5 years from now many more people might hit Youku than will hit Youtube, but that doesn't mean Westerners will *have* to know some Chinese in order to access the Internet, like the title of the article says.
renren.com and kaixin001.com are the current contenders for Facebook however Tencent, creators of QQ, have launched pengyou.com in July 2010 as well. Personally, I use renren.com because that's where most of the Chinese friends are.. but it's decidedly difficult to use, navigate and sign up for because it is a Chinese thing.. not a western thing so different design principles are in use.
I don't think Youku will ever really fully develop into an English-able interface as it has no need to.. just my opinion/view of it though..
light487December 30, 2010, 04:18 AM
One thing that always intrigues me is the severe lack of native support for Chinese language on current computers. When you first get most Windows installations, it comes default with quite a number of non-English character sets but not Asian Language.. why? Also, there are more than a few smart phones that share this lack of Asian language support in their non-China based releases.. even in countries with large Chinese populations.
I always find it infuriating to access this and other websites at work because of this lack of native support for Asian languages... and yet I can see Arabic text, Cyrillic text etc all without installing anything.. What do they have against Asian languages??
I see, I have heard about that , every computer I have used can display Chinese characters by deafult w/o me having to do anything. Maybe I have been lucky. One thing that should change is this: If you buy a Windows computer and select a language for the whole interface, there's *no way* to change that language afterward. I mean the menu languages, etc. OTH, if you buy a cell phone you can change the interface language with just a few key presses. Even the smartphones.
iaingDecember 30, 2010, 12:13 PM
The graph doesn't show what percentage of web pages are in what language.
English accounts for roughly three times the amount of actual internet content than Chinese does, despite the number of Chinese users being roughly the same as English users.
There are a number of reasons as to why Chinese content may lag behind.
The most likely future scenario is one where smart text translate services, which are improving remarkably even in the last few years, make the issue of what language you read largely irrelevant. This will be particularly so between Chinese and English. The requirement to have the ability to read both languages online will become functionally unnecessary in the next 5 - 10 years.
kimiikDecember 30, 2010, 05:30 PM
I see a big bias against the english language in this stats.
"[...] many people are bilingual or multilingual, but here we assign only one language per person in order to have all the language totals add up to the total world population (zero-sum approach)."
The "world population of a language" seems to represent the total population of countries where it's the first official language.
rodsDecember 30, 2010, 11:58 PM
Soon we'll all have to start eating rice, because more people on earth eat rice than eat potatoes!
The percentage of Internet users who speak Chinese, English, Spanish or whatever language is irrelevant. It's not a zero sum game. There is room for everyone. Even if 99.9% of all web pages were Chinese, there could still be as many English pages as there are now times (pick a number).
There'll always be plenty of English speaking cats playing the piano!