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Language Poll

On Monday, our German partner Hubert Burda Media soft-launched, a new ScienceBlogs site in German. In thinking about science blogs written in other languages, we thought now would be a good time for a quick reader poll.

Below we’ve got two questions for you, dear readers, about your language skills. It’ll only take a few seconds to answer, so please do so. And if you’d like to add more thoughts about ScienceBlogs and language, please comment on the post—we’d love to hear it!

Question Number 2:

Care to explain your reasoning? Comment below!


  1. #1 chezjake
    December 11, 2007

    There appears to be a problem with your first poll question. It only allows selection of one language before displaying results. I’m sure that many ScienceBlogs readers are polylingual.

    Also, when it comes to science and internet activity, actually speaking a language is probably not relevant. What is more important is what languages people can read. For example, I can speak French, but I can make general sense of scientific articles in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.

    I’m also rather surprised that Russian didn’t show up in your list, considering how many world scientists use it.

  2. #2 sbotond
    December 11, 2007


  3. #3 Eric
    December 11, 2007

    Unless they edited the post after your comment, I don’t think there’s a problem with the poll. It asks what language you speak best after English and asks you to select that one. I think they intended it to just be a single selection.

  4. #4 Niobe
    December 11, 2007

    I would say Spanish due to the massive audience you can capture with that language.

  5. #5 Deepsix
    December 11, 2007

    Я говорю русского.

  6. #6 Deepsix
    December 11, 2007

    Ouch. That didn’t work. Anyway, put me down for Russian.

  7. #7 j
    December 11, 2007

    It’d be better if we could choose multiple languages for the first poll.

  8. #8 Tom
    December 11, 2007

    Isn’t it obvious that the next one should be in Russian?

  9. #9 Richard
    December 11, 2007


  10. #10 Trey
    December 11, 2007

    I’d say Spanish, but Chinese is definitely up and coming. Japanese and French next.

    I speak Korean and German, but since English is my native language I prefer reading science in English of course. Though, I am looking forward to honing my German skills with science blogs!

  11. #11 Che
    December 11, 2007

    Klingon should be the next SB language.

  12. #12 Sickle Cell
    December 11, 2007

    Hebrew! please.

  13. #13 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    December 11, 2007

    Esperanto and Navajo.

  14. #14 Matthew
    December 11, 2007

    Well, the most spoken languages are Spanish, Chinese, and Hindi, so those seem appropriate.

  15. #15 JD
    December 11, 2007

    Has to be espaol

  16. #16 Katherine Sharpe
    December 11, 2007

    “Unless they edited the post after your comment, I don’t think there’s a problem with the poll. It asks what language you speak best after English and asks you to select that one. I think they intended it to just be a single selection.”

    We edited it after the comment…unfortunately, Quimble polls only allow for one answer per question.

  17. #17 Travis McDermott
    December 11, 2007

    Classical Latin and Greek

  18. #18 HP
    December 11, 2007

    I don’t speak or read either one, but the last time I checked Brazilian Portuguese and Farsi (aka Persian, Iranian) were the 2nd and 3rd most-written languages on the Internet, after English.

    There are a *lot* of Brazilian and Iranian bloggers.

  19. #19 Who Cares
    December 11, 2007

    Other: Dutch
    Though I can live with classical Latin 😀

  20. #20 kevin z
    December 11, 2007

    Swedish and Spanish

    No french though, damn them all…. cheese-eating surrender monkeys…

  21. #21 Chris
    December 11, 2007

    I think the Muslim faithful are in desperate need of some science blogging, maybe blogging in Arabic might help.

  22. #22 nj
    December 11, 2007

    Latin, if you really want to suck me in.

  23. #23 John
    December 11, 2007

    I didn’t see an option for the language of Carolus Linnaeus. 🙂

  24. #24 RickD
    December 11, 2007

    “Well, the most spoken languages are Spanish, Chinese, and Hindi, so those seem appropriate.”

    What are the most spoken in science and/or on the Internet?

    The question of appropriateness is not as simple as looking at a world census. There are a billion Chinese but most don’t have internet access. And the number of non-Chinese who speak Chinese is very low. And non-Indians who speak Hindi? Why bother when English is spoken by basically every educated Indian?

    I would suggest French or Spanish or Chinese, based on whether the goal is to expand into Africa, South America, or Asia, respectively.

  25. #25 Ryan Dickie
    December 11, 2007

    En francais SVP. I think it would make a lot of sense to have some math or philosophy stuff done in french.

    English is the galactic basic and everyone speaks it for business, science, and international affairs.

  26. #26 Iorwerth Thomas
    December 11, 2007

    I’m tempted to say Welsh…

  27. #27 SoloGen
    December 11, 2007

    I vote for Persian (aka Farsi), even though I know that it is not actively used for scientific correspondences.

  28. #28 thadd
    December 11, 2007

    I think French would have the largest reach, but I am all about Arabic.

  29. #29 danil
    December 11, 2007

    Dutch would be my preferred language after English (proper, not American). As a third i would have to go with French.

  30. #30 Mike O'Risal
    December 11, 2007

    I clicked Spanish as my best language, though actually my Brazilian Portuguese is just as good if not better. I hadn’t realized that we’d be limited to one choice. I’m surprised the numbers on the latter are so low, and a bit disappointed since I had to take a year and a half of it as an undergraduate. Ah well.

  31. #31 Mark E.
    December 11, 2007

    I’d like to see Russian.

  32. #32 Maxim K.
    December 11, 2007

    I support Russian as well

  33. #33 Evan
    December 11, 2007

    Russian and Swedish would seem to make the most sense. My $0.02 anyway.

  34. #34 Pio Baroja
    December 11, 2007

    sin duda en espa�ol. Y me duele que nadie haya utilizado este idioma a�n. El empiricismo anglosaj�n necesita del sentido tr�gico de la vida espa�ol (aunque decididamente no comparto la afirmaci�n de Unamuno acerca de que inventen ellos…).

  35. #35 Tsjok45
    December 11, 2007

    “There appears to be a problem with your first poll question. It only allows selection of one language before displaying results. I’m sure that many ScienceBlogs readers are polylingual.”

    I speak and read dutch , french , english and german …
    Selection of one language really is underestimating your readers …and creates a flawed poll

  36. #36 iacovibus
    December 11, 2007

    Congrats for the German…

    Now is the time for some Slavic languages… Russian / Macedonian / Serbo-Croatian maybe?

  37. #37 Josh Rosenau
    December 11, 2007


  38. #38 Gabe
    December 11, 2007

    Spanish would be good, since it’s soooo spoken everywhere. Portuguese I find it a lil’ irrelevant, since most port speaking blogs are about a) irrelevancies; b) literature/opinion; c) more irrelevancies ill-spelled. No good science written in portuguese on the net nowadays.

  39. #39 Barn Owl
    December 11, 2007

    I agree with the first comment, regarding the importance of language reading ability. I’m sure I’m not the only SciBlog reader with a disconnect between the language (other than English) I’m better at speaking (Spanish), and the language I’m better at reading (German).

  40. #40 zayzayem
    December 11, 2007

    I know French or Spanish is going win out. Both of these languages are prevalent as first or second languages in the Americas.

    I’d really like to see an Asiatic language taken up next. Japanese (??????), Mandarin or possibly Hindi (India and China are both HUUUUUGE markets).

  41. #41 Janne
    December 11, 2007

    “I didn’t see an option for the language of Carolus Linnaeus. :-)”

    John, not sure too many living people understand medieval Swedish…

    Put me down for Japanese as well – I know Swedish better, but need to practice my Japanese.

  42. #42 deanbcurtis
    December 11, 2007

    凄い。Germanic scienceblogs! Of course, while I would love to read scienceblogs in Japanese, expanding into Russian or Mandarin seems like the next step to take.

  43. #43 n8aly
    December 12, 2007


  44. #44 Daniel
    December 12, 2007

    I speak Swedish and Spanish. Actually a Swedish SB would be really cool. I know of a lot of people who’d jump at the chance of blogging about science in Swedish in a more organized manner, like on SB.

    Janne: Medieval!? Maybe you need to practice history more than japanese? Nah… just kidding with you, I get what you mean.

  45. #45 AntonGarou
    December 12, 2007

    I would really like to have Scienceblogs in Hebrew.Would be way cool:)

  46. #46 Lassi Hippeläinen
    December 12, 2007

    UTF-8, please. I don’t want to see my much cherished umlaut borked each time I make the error of using your preview window.

    But if you want to stick to ISO-8859, the -1 variant is outdated. Use -15, which contains the €uro symbol.

  47. #47 Kristjan Wager
    December 12, 2007

    Other languages I read: Danish, and as an extention Swedish and Norwegian. German, though I’m rusty.

    I can understand some texts in Dutch, but doubt I would be able to read a science text in it.

    I think the next science blogs should be in Spanish, due to the number of people who speaks it. Chinese and Arabic are other good candidates.

  48. #48 negentropyeater
    December 12, 2007

    I would suggest that one backs such decisions with more empirical facts.

    For example, a quick google search for the following term and its declinations gives the following results :

    1. scientific (english) : 26.1 mill pages
    2. scientifique (french) : 3.7 mill pages
    3. wissenschaftliche (German) 1.6 mill pages
    4. scientifico (spanisch) : 1.4 mill pages

    all other languages are far behind

    Conclusion, the top 3 languages of science and philosophy are English, French, German (in that order)

    I am quite sure that other empirical facts will confirm this ranking.

  49. #49 Larry Fafarman
    December 12, 2007

    This expansion into Europe may mean that ScienceBlogs will finally have to follow European rules against misuse of IP addresses in attempts to identify and block commenters. Some ScienceBlogs bloggers have been misusing IP addresses in this way. Rules for protecting Internet identities are especially strong in Germany.

  50. #50 Bob O'H
    December 12, 2007

    Just a thought against Swedish – we’ve got to them already, and most read and speak pretty good English. Surely a better approach is to pick a language whose users don’t speak English. That way you maximise coverage.

    As every Englishman who has visited will have worked out, this is a vote for Welsh.


  51. #51 Torbj�rn Larsson, OM
    December 12, 2007

    First, on the poll question:

    Why should local blogs necessarily be in the local language? The main problem with scienceblogs, if there is any, is that it mainly operates in American time zones. (Even if some bloggers autoscript post releases to make up for it.) Frequenting from other parts in the world you can meet a sleeping site, an empty comment thread, or a (too) long thread where the busy hours are past.

    To fix that inconvenience I would prefer 3 distributed english language sites, north/south american, european/african, and asian/australian. Of course local language blogs, news and ads should be accommodated on these sites. But if there is no english blogs at all it doesn’t compensate for the time lags.

    Second, on the poll:

    Besides that the above alternative wasn’t covered (i.e. english preference), the poll was a javascript which may be blocked in browsers, especially as it was a third party site script. And there was no default text giving a warning for this, and no description of which site should be allowed to run the script.

    I expected more professionalism from a large site.

  52. #52 Italo M. R. Guedes
    December 12, 2007

    Well, I understand all your reasoning, but I still pick Potuguese – there really is an active Portuguese language science blogosphere both in Portugal and in Brazil, and Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world and the second largest population in the Americas. Everybody knows how much of the world problems depends on the “scientification” of Brazilian people: the Amazon rain forest is here, besides other extremely important but less well-known ecosystems, we have good technologies on the production of bio-fuels, we have very deep soils with an incredible potential to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide, brazilian agriculture is very intensive and ours is a growing economy. What we don’t have but need desperately is effective science education and popularization. And yes, there are many irrelevant pages written in Portuguese but not as many of them about intelligent design as there are in English.

  53. #53 Lassi Hippelinen
    December 12, 2007

    Larry Fafarman: “This expansion into Europe may mean that ScienceBlogs will finally have to follow European rules…”

    Only if the service is hosted in Europe, which seems unlikely.

    “… against misuse of IP addresses in attempts to identify and block commenters. Some ScienceBlogs bloggers have been misusing IP addresses in this way.”

    That is a perfectly legal way to use an IP address, also here in Europe.

    “Rules for protecting Internet identities are especially strong in Germany.”

    Yes, but they have nothing to do with either IP addresses (which are identities of computers, not persons) or blocking trolls.

  54. #54 Janne
    December 12, 2007


    “??” – ‘kenkyuu’ (Japanese): 128 million pages

    Or, if you prefer:

    “?????” – ‘saiensu’ (Japanese): 6.3 million pages

    From this exhaustive empirical research I conclude that Japanese is the next one.

  55. #55 Da Vinci
    December 12, 2007

    Turkish 🙂

  56. #56 Daniel
    December 12, 2007

    Bob O’H: Good point.

  57. #57 Walabio
    December 12, 2007


    ¿Kial “ScienceBlogs.Com” ne uzas Esperanton? Esperanto estas bela Lingvo. ¡EO.ScienceBlogs.Com bonegas!


  58. #58 Shiritai
    December 12, 2007


    Was your post meant in jest? A quick search for 科学, the general word for science in Chinese, brought up 14.8 million hits.


    研究 is also used in Chinese, with about the same meaning. I restricted the search to Japanese language sites and got about 9.1 million hits. However, 研究 is more general than science. サイエンス gets about 1.3 million hits, though it overlaps with the journal Science, which should probably count anyways. Doing a search for 理学 (rigaku), the more formal word for science, gets 0.7 million hits. This is all using Google, though, and I don’t know how good it is for Japanese sites.

  59. #59 Shiritai
    December 12, 2007

    Meh, got my vocab mixed up. 理学(rigaku) is physical science, 科学 (kagaku) is science. A search for 科学 gets 4 million hits.

  60. #60 Mephisto
    December 12, 2007

    It’s a toss up between Sesotho and Manx.

  61. #61 Mephisto
    December 12, 2007

    I’m tempted to say Welsh…

    Iorweth, dych chi’n siarad yn cymraeg!? Mae cymraeg yn yr iaith y gwyddoniaeth.

  62. #62 HCN
    December 12, 2007

    Spanish would emcompass most of the Western Hemisphere, Spain, parts of Africa, and the Philipines. There are several unversities and high tech areas in South America, and in Spain (the location of one of Europe’s largist technical center), despite what RickD thinks.

    Brazil also has a huge science and technical population, as noted before there is lots of Internet participation from there, so Portuguese should also be added soon. There are lots of Spanish, Mexican, Chilean, Brazilian and other South American members of the JREF forum

  63. #63 Niobe
    December 12, 2007

    I don’t think the size of the scientific population should have a determining factor (aside from the need for authors),
    but the amount of scientifically illiterate people(s) that could use a source in their native language, so Spanish/Portuguese for central and south America or French for Africa.

  64. #64 Jason
    December 12, 2007

    I vote for a which could include contributors from across the EU (and the rest of Europe) in a variety of languages. I’d like to see British and Irish blogs in English as well as French, German, Spanish blogs etc.

  65. #65 Mephisto
    December 12, 2007

    As has been said above, having a Hindi section would be not entirely necessary since English is so spoken in India – indeed, it is a national language with equal status to Hindi. In fact, Hindi is more culturally divisive in parts of India (particularly Tamil Nadu in the south) than English, and anyone in India who doesn’t speak English is likely not to speak Hindi either, but one of the 21 other national languages of India.

    Maybe the first priority should just be a linguistic science/sociolinguistics scienceblog?

  66. #66 Gaurav
    December 12, 2007

    It doesn’t matter whether Hindi is divisive or English is commonly understood in India (actually a really bad claim – really is it anything beyond wanna, gonna?). Saying that English alone is sufficient cuts out a vast majority in India. I would vote double triple for Hindi – it simply would open ScienceBlogs up for a huge huge population in India.

    @Mephisto: Very poor claim based on poor sampling: “anyone in India who doesn’t speak English is likely not to speak Hindi either.”

  67. #67 Brian X
    December 12, 2007

    I would suggest the following:

    -French and Russian, due to the fact that both are linguae francae for different parts of the international community;
    -romanized Hindi/Urdu;
    -Spanish and Portuguese;
    -Arabic and possibly Farsi

    All of the above are based mostly on numbers, and at least in part the amount of literature written in those languages.

  68. #68 HP
    December 12, 2007

    To echo what was said above (and what I’ve said elsewhere): Please, please, PLEASE change the default template charset to utf-8!

    How hard can this be? (Answer: It is not hard at all.)

    iso-8859-1 is barely adequate for English. Just look at this comment thread! Ugly and provincial.

    Before you even think about starting a new ScienceBlogs site, contact your webmaster and tell him, “Drop what you’re doing and make sure that the templates for all future posts default to charset=utf-8.” We can continue the language discussion when that’s done. Like, in a few minutes.

  69. #69 Jason Fox
    December 12, 2007

    I would love to see Latin, since it is archaic and beautiful, but Spanish or Italian would be more practical.

  70. #70 North
    December 13, 2007


  71. #71 Adam Cuerden
    December 13, 2007

    How about Turkish, to try and counteract the importation of Answers in Genesis there}

  72. #72 LegoPanda
    December 13, 2007


    Granted, there are only 300 thousand of us, but it would be extremely cool!

  73. #73 Krysia
    December 13, 2007


  74. #74 justapie
    December 14, 2007


  75. #75 prosaica
    December 14, 2007

    negentropyeater, scientifico could be spanish, italian or portuguese. So spanish rates even lower.

    But english, german, dutch, and the scandinavian trio are more or less equivalent for reading purposes: I read english, german and swedish best, but I can manage the rest.

    We should have at least one language from the latin family (no, not latin!): if you choose spanish, portuguese and italian and rumanian speakers will be able to read it without big problems. French people will pretend they can’t.

    And then of course chinese and arabic, and a slavic language – russian seems the most natural choice. Not that I can read any of those, unfortunately.

  76. #76 ORK
    December 15, 2007

    I support LegoPanda

  77. #77 Stagyar zil Doggo
    December 15, 2007

    Russian, even though I don’t speak a word of it.

    Much interesting research, particularly in the physical sciences and mathematics, is reported in Russian that remains unheard of (or at least not widely heard) in the English speaking world for long afterwards. accompanied by (volunteer?) translation could help bridge this gap.

  78. #78 Relevant
    December 16, 2007

    Ironically all the people that don’t speak english can’t express an opinion, because they can’t read this blog.
    May be it could be more useful to seek an answer on other language blogs.
    For example, you could use (spanish version of slashdot) for a opinion of spanish readers.
    That could be a better non biased research.

  79. #79 Mikhail
    December 18, 2007

    Korean… Portuguese…?!? You must be kidding! Where is Russian? Considering the importance of this culture to the world, omitting it is just ridiculous!

  80. #80 Mikhail
    December 18, 2007

    To negentropyeater:
    Congratulations in your assumptions. You clearly forgot that other languages use other alphabets than latin… Example: the word “scientific” with all its declinations spelled in Russian gives more than 10 million hits on Google, and Google doesn’t even properly cover the Russian part of the Internet! 🙂

  81. #81 kobeboy
    December 19, 2007

    I’m surprised that not so many people have come out in support for Japanese. There are already a bunch of Japanese science bloggers, there’s a huge research base in Japan and there’s a great deal of interest in science.

  82. #82 Jorg
    December 21, 2007

    I suspect Russian would be a good choice. Swedish and French are great, but the majority of Swedes speak English better than native speakers, and the French…;)

  83. #83 blf
    December 23, 2007

    Please please PLEASE fix the site so it is uniformly UTF-8.

  84. #84 kozmetik
    December 23, 2007


  85. #85 geciktirici
    December 24, 2007

    Russian as well

  86. #86 Carlos
    December 25, 2007

    I regard Spanish as the next logical step (actually, I had expected it to be the second step after English…) It probably offers the best trade-off in terms of number of speakers and geographical dissemination.

    @negentropyeater: good try, but “scientific” in Spanish is “cientfico” or “cientfica” depending on gender (no leading ‘s’ in either case; that’d be Italian).

  87. #87 Marco Ferrari
    December 27, 2007

    Italian. Just because we need it. We speak almost no english, and we’re among the most scientific ignorant nation this side of the galaxy…


  88. #88 Magnus
    December 29, 2007

    Well, I’d like to see something like a “” European edition — without changing the language. We may read English pretty well, but it gets boring having to fast-forward through so many posts about “Bush vetoes stem-cell research”, “Ron Paul doesn’t believe in evolution”, etc.

    And getting the “meat” of the posts over to both sides should be doable with minimal work. (So long as people are willing to tag their posts, anyway.)

  89. #89 zets
    January 7, 2008

    I suggest Turkish.

  90. #90 greg
    January 9, 2008

    I think Russian be a good choice