Home Opinion How is the Presence of the Portuguese Language on the Internet today?

How is the Presence of the Portuguese Language on the Internet today?

Margarita CorreiaMargarita Correia*

The project Presença da Língua Portuguesa na Internet (PPI) was carried out, in 2021, by the Observatory of Linguistic and Cultural Diversity on the Internet, under the coordination of the UNESCO Chair in Linguistic Policies for Multilingualism (UFSC, Brazil), with financing from the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations, through the International Institute of the Portuguese Language (IILP).

The 118-page document is available online and contains valuable information for those who are (or should be) concerned with developing language policies for Portuguese.

In 2011, A Língua Portuguesa na Era Digital (ed. António Branco and others, online) was published, presenting then unpublished data on the presence of Portuguese on the Internet.

The work showed, among other things, that the Portuguese language was then the fifth most used language on the Internet (surpassed by English, Chinese, Spanish and Japanese), and that it had registered an amazing 990% growth in the number of users between 2000 and 2010, especially thanks to the growth of access to the network by Brazil.

The PPI used an innovative methodology and updated information on the presence of Portuguese on the Internet, from access to a wide range of current data sources, taking into account the multilingualism of speakers. According to their final report, Portuguese ranks sixth among the most used languages on the Internet, behind English, Chinese, Spanish, French and Hindi, and closely followed by Arabic, Japanese German and Russian.

Other relevant data are the decrease in the presence of English on the Internet (from 30% in 2017, to 25% in 2021), the consolidation of Spanish as the 3rd language, and the significant growth of Arabic and Turkish.

The percentage of Portuguese speakers connected to the Internet is globally 67%, with Brazil and Portugal being the main responsible for this situation, with 74% and 75% of people connected, respectively. The remaining Portuguese speaking countries have the following figures: Cape Verde (62%), Mozambique (21%), São Tomé and Príncipe (33%), East Timor (30%), Angola (16%) and Guinea-Bissau (5%). Taken together, therefore, the Portuguese language ranks 33rd on the list of languages with the highest percentage of Internet users.

However, Portugal has connection rates below the average of the OECD countries and a low growth rate.

Despite the good relative position of the language, only 3.5% of the content on the Internet is in Portuguese (against 25% in English, 15% in Chinese, 7% in Spanish, 4% in French and Hindi), and there is plenty of room for growth.

Among the topics most searched for by Portuguese speakers are search engines, games, movies, hosting, pornography and file sharing, far above the average of those searched for by speakers of other languages, while the use of professional social networks, question and answer websites (e.g. Quora), blogs and e-commerce are far below.

Portuguese speakers are thus more consumers than producers of content and the use of the Internet has more weight for leisure than for professional life.

On November 21 and 22, today and tomorrow, the International Seminar “Presence of Portuguese on the Internet: situation, opportunities and strategies” will take place in virtual mode.

There is much to be done.

*Professor and researcher, coordinator of the Portuguese Language Portal

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