Twitter Map Shows London’s Language Pockets

The six-month project analysed 3.3 million tweets with the help of GPS and Google Translate, and discovered a total of 66 languages spoken in the British capital.

Twitter Map Shows London’s Language Pockets

Using Twitter, a pair of London-based academics have created a map of the city’s linguistic diversity. The study, over a six-month period, analyzed around 3.3 million GPS-located tweets, putting them through Google Translate, to find out which languages are most prevalent in certain areas. The home language dominated, with over nine of every 10 tweets in English, followed by Spanish, French, and Turkish. Most visible were the pockets of French-language Twitter users.

One of the authors, student Ed Manley, who thought up the idea with Professor James Cheshire as a distraction from his PhD, reminds readers of just how skewed Twitter data can be. “In total, 92.5% of tweets are detected as English, far above existing estimations (60%) of English speakers in London.”

One amusing little anecdote does arise from the study. Tagalog, a language from the Philippines, was originally identified as one of the most tweeted languages. On closer inspection, the researchers discovered that English lingo such as lolololol and hahaha was being misclassified.

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.

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