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Celebrating International Mother Language Day

20th February 2015

Hi everyone,

Did you know that tomorrow is International Mother Language Day? Extra points if you did! Observed since 2000, IMLD celebrates the languages spoken around the world and promotes multilingualism and the appreciation of different cultures. In the words of the UN’s webpage on this special day:

“Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.”

Language is at the heart of everything we do at SwiftKey. Even beyond the language or dialect you might speak, we believe that each of us has our own personal language and favorite words that we rely on to express precisely what we want to say – in our own words.

In recognition of the importance of language and to celebrate Mother Language day, we conducted some research on the languages – and combinations of languages – SwiftKey users are typing in around the world. This led to some pretty fascinating insights. Can you guess what country is the most multilingual? How about the least? Scroll to find out…and join the conversation on Twitter & Facebook with #IMLD!

How multilingual is your country?

Thanks,
Nicky and the Comms Team

32 responses to “Celebrating International Mother Language Day”

  1. mesmorino says:

    Swiftkey could maybe have involved Duolingo in this. The two apps go together very well, and I’m just amazed that no one’s managed to spot a collaborative effort of some sort

  2. erintiransom says:

    When Catalonia becomes independent, Spain will go down with the Anglo nations, and Catalonia will go way up. Wait and see.

  3. Antonio says:

    Very good staff, I am not impressed by Spain on the third place, it’s a very good example of multi-cultural and smart country. And a foreigner who lives in Spain is saying that.

    Now since we are talking about Swifkey and multiple languages why on earth we don’t have on iOS the possibly to type in 3 languages simultaneously whitout having to switch language each time? (Thing that is possible on Android.)

    Now since I have to type in English my third language I have to switch back to standar keyboard from Swiftkey because you don’t alloe 3 language at the same time.

  4. Guest says:

    Thought India would be in the list. What the actual fuck?

  5. KatTara says:

    Ok, it’s “Javanese”, not “Javan”.

    • Josh, SwiftKey Community Team says:

      Hi @KatTara:disqus thank you for flagging this. It’s now updated above 🙂

      • KatTara says:

        Awesome! Thanks!

      • Irina Zhuravleva says:

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        We make a film about this story and want to get your interview. Waiting for your answer.

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        iporn@ya.ru (e-mail)

      • satinmerno says:

        Why in the info-graphic we are painted as black? as if all of us are farmers and fishers LOL. FYI my Indonesian families 75% are all white 25% dark skin but we can’t call it black.. black people are in Papua (eastern part of Indonesia) they only represent minority in our community and yes all Muslims, Christian, Hindus, Buddhisms all are living co-exist and side by side more than peacefully (we are like families and best friends with each other regardless skin color,religion, ethnicity)! 😀

  6. Ivan says:

    this statistic is based on how many languages we download for our swiftkey(board) ?

  7. Derek Sass says:

    This is ridiculous, have you ever been to South Africa? There are eleven official languages. Almost everyone is multilingual. Your statistics make Swiftkey look retarded.

  8. maxq nz says:

    The absence of India and of ANY African countries shows how meaningless these “statistics” are. The whole thing is just an ad for SwiftKey, as admiited in the TINY print: “data based on analysis of languages used globally in the SwiftKey keyboard app”

    In other words, “if you don’t use our app (or are multilingual but illiterate), then you don’t count at all”

    I love SwiftKey, rave about it and recommend it, but this is really disappointing. Crass, shallow and actively misleading, it’s self-promotion propganda that does SwiftKey no favours.

    • Although not statistically relevant to represent the global world, they do speaks that to certain degree. They presenting the data they have. What more could you ask?

      Not everything in the world is a competition, sometimes it’s just a celebration (of language).

      • maxq nz says:

        “What more could you ask?” Simple – I could ask for honesty in the headlines and descriptors. Also, NO ONE said anything about “competition”. The fact is that SwiftKey used misleading and factually wrong headlines to convey the impression that what was actually just an ad for their (excellent) product was in fact a statistical presentation of valid language data.

        • Raka Bachtiar says:

          Research about multilingualism like this is very rare, and very hard to do. Imagine the effort to collect all the data from EVERY population from ALL countries. The ridiculous ammount of efforts and cost, with the slim possibility of it to be profitable, made people reluctant to do it.

          so when swiftkey decided to use their database to do this research, i say it’s a damn good idea. It doesn’t cost much, it’s efficient, and informative.

          Of course it’s not perfect.
          Heck, there’s no such thing as a perfect research, but they did a really damn good job with this.

          • maxq nz says:

            It’s inefficient snd not only is it uninformative, it’s actively misleading. For example “27.5% of the world’s population is multilingual, speaking two or more languages” is JUST PLAIN WRONG. It would not have been hard for SwiftKey to tell the truth “27.5% of SwiftKey users use SwiftKey in more than 1 language”

    • Jason Blake says:

      This just in, Egypt and Morroco are not an African countries.

      • maxq nz says:

        Touché! I should have said “any Sub-Saharan African countries”, since they are the ones I was thinking of – – countries with very high levels of multilingualism but low smartphone penetration. A stupid mistake on my part which, unlike SwiftKey’s marketing team, I am very ready to admit.

  9. John R Hanson says:

    This is so wrong. The Philippines beats every one of these countries hands down. Most Filipino’s speak Tagalog, their native tongue such as Ilocano or Visayan and English. The Philippines has over 73 written languages. These are not DIALICTS as many like to report but their own written languages. This is based on a percentage. India or China probably win this contest if you talk just pure numbers.

  10. Wesley Stoops says:

    This is incredibly erroneous. Firstly, Well over half of the people in the world speak more than 1 language, 27.5% is terribly wrong. Also, the most trilingual country is at 17.4%? Please, this is misleading. There are several obvious countries that are above that. In Luxembourg, Aruba, & Hong Kong EVERYONE speaks three languages, and I know for sure there are more examples. The most bilingual country is at 74.7%? Really?! What about the fact that 90% of Dutch people also speak English? Also, Switzerland, Belgium, Philippines, and many more. And it’s quite obvious Africa wasn’t taken into consideration at all.
    I know this research is done by your own statistics, but it is still incredibly misleading. The title should be changed.

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