Top languages in global information production

Sergey Lobachev


The paper aims to determine top languages in global information production and the ratio of information resources available in those languages. The scope of the study was limited to information resources, which are commonly available through the public domain, i. e. libraries and the Internet. They include books, academic journals, newspapers and popular magazines, films, and web pages. The summarized results were compared with the percentage of literate population in each corresponding language.
The paper suggests that there is a significant gap between the users of information and available information resources. 82% of all information in the world is produced in top ten languages. Countries with low literacy rate and poor education are excluded from universal knowledge.
English constitutes almost half of world’s information resources. The educated community tends to consider English as a universal language. At the same time, non-English resources are largely ignored in English-speaking countries. The term “language divide” can be equally applied to the English-speaking world.
The paper outlines further research directions.
The early version of this paper was presented as a poster session at the CLA Conference in Vancouver in May 2008.

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Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research (ISSN: 1911-9593)