Thursday, August 13, 2009

Google Trends: Schule, école, escuela, sekolah

In checking out Google Trends among languages, I decided to focus on the word ‘school’. I wanted to see what the trends looked like in various languages around the world. The first thing I learned was how incredibly dominant the English language is in Google searches, with the English word ‘school’ overpowering the others so much that it quite defeated the purpose. So erasing English from the equation, I am left with “Schule” in German, “école” in French, “escuela” in Spanish and “sekolah” in Bahasa Indonesia.

It seems, then, that Spanish wins. Not surprisingly, I suppose, in that it’s spoken in so many countries. I was surprised to find how badly Bahasa Indonesia performed, since Indonesia is no small country. Global distribution of Internet users, I suppose, or at least of Google users.

It’s really a beautiful graph though, with its intricate series of peaks and valleys more or less identical among the three European languages, with sudden dips corresponding to school breaks in February, in summer and at Christmas time. The country searches offer no real surprises, with ‘sekolah’ being searched to any real extent only in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, ‘école’ mainly in francophone France, Morocco, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada, ‘Schule’ in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, and ‘escuela’ in a huge list of countries, all Spanish-speaking. Mexico tops the list, Colombia comes in at #10 (Google Trends shows no more than that). In Switzerland they search for ‘Schule’ about three times as often as they search for ‘école’, but Lausanne looks very bilingual indeed as the two terms are Googled more or less equally.

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