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English language loses internet dominance

For the first time, the number of internet users with English as their first language has been outnumbered due to an increase in language diversity on the internet. The change was announced by the 3rd annual State of the Internet Report produced by the US Internet Council and the International Technology & Trade Associates (ITTA).13 Nov 2001

The State of the Internet Report aims to “review the changing architecture and demographics of the web and the continued viability of numerous on-line business ventures.” The report found that, in 2001, the on-line population crossed the half billion milestone. Significantly, native English speakers lost their dominance and now represent approximately 45% of the on-line population. While North America, Europe, and Japan continue dominate the on-line world, several other nations such as China, India, and South Korea began to play larger roles.

The report also found that internet architecture is expanding to reflect these changes with new multilingual domain names and new top level domains. However, the study also noted that “national legal jurisdictions are colliding in cyberspace” and that they are “wrestling to determine the reach of national legal codes. In some cases the web is being manipulated or censored, threatening the notion of a single, unrestricted World Wide Web.”