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Browsing the Internet in various languages

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I've recently read an interesting article in Deutsche Welle which states that about 90% of European Internet users regularly browse the web in their native language only:


What's your take on this?

Personally, I think the Internet is where knowledge of as many languages as possible is absolutely essential. I feel that seeing only "your" linguistic corner of the web severely limits your experience.

Let's share how writing/reading a foreign language/languages has helped you get a better experience of the online browsing.

For me it's been hugely useful:

- First and foremost, to get a better idea of what's really happening in the world. If you think there's no such think as propaganda in your country, think again :) Most of the news service have their own political or cultural biases. Of course, we'll never  know what's really going on somewhere in point X unless we are there. However, when you can read about in various sites from various countries, you get a more accurate picture. It's incredibly just how differently various countries and sites describe certain events... and accompany them with different pictures.. and supplement videos to prove their point.


- To find the file/image/piece of information you need, it has been tremendously helpful to look for the same key words in different languages. You can find things others won't, and you'll do much quicker and more easily, especially when it comes to something rare, not so popular, country-specific etc.

- And you can also buy the things you need (sometimes even such things as rare medicine or a unique cd) and that are not available in your country (or available, but terribly overpriced). There are many online shops out there with only one language setup, and while google translate may help, it is of course much more convenient and efficient to be able to understand the content yourself.

What are your experiences with using the Internet in multiple languages?

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I think it applies most to the south-European countries, the UK and Germany.
Here in the Netherlands people mostly browse English language websites as far as I know.

Just look at Wikipedia for example, the average Dutch article contains very little information on most subjects (unless it's relevant to the Netherlands or Belgium).
Comparing those articles to their English equivalents, there's a whole lot more information on the same subjects.

Or in terms of Ecommerce, there's a whole lot more choice in English than there are in Dutch.
And Dutch shops normally limit their shipping to the Benelux, while English shops usually ship worldwide.

Or with news websites, Dutch sites are either pure propaganda (usually the big boys), the hard truth (usually the small bloggers), or somewhere in-between.
English news sites can vary a lot when it comes to their trustworthiness (RT is among my favourites).

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think that it really comes down to the country that you are talking about, if you look at the most spoken languages in the world you will find that they are the most represented online. So people from Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain and the UK probably will find what they are looking for in their native tongue. The languages that are less spoken probably will do more searches in a alternative language.

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Scribendi: World-Class Editing and Proofreading

Tat is really revealing and scary at the same time, I am talking about the picture you posted, of course!   My fiance browses the web in his mother language, unlike me, I do search the web in English because it's the most international language and by surfing the web in Spanish I'm sure I'd miss a lot important things.  Because yes, I have seen how media can be manipulated so badly, sometimes it's done on purpose, but sometimes it's just a misunderstanding.  But that happens when surfing the web in English, specially when focusing on news that took place in a country with a different country and language. 

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I think that even if you can easily find what you are looking for in your native language, it sometimes pays off to look for it in another language too. Especially when it comes to political (or other) news, product reviews and stuff like that. You'll have much more information, and it'll be more varied.

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When I first started using the internet prettty much everything was in english so I had to figure it out, there was no choice. I think that is a testatment to what can be done when you have to adapt as I think I'm doing pretty well now :). I would do it for my next language, just need to figure out which one now...

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@Ogada Actually, I think many people started to passively learn English when the Internet became available :) And the same is true for PCs... when computers became popular in Russia (and affordable), there was no such thing as localization. DOS was English-only, first Windows (and a couple of subsequent ones) were also available only in English. People had to learn quickly if they wanted to use the computer (and later on, to browse the Internet). That's probably a good thing, although I'm not sure that English becoming a world language is that great.

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