Few ‘Computer Science’ searches in English? I guess I’ll start writing in Tagalog

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Pagbati, Maligayang pagdating sa MikeDoesWeb!

I have observed an interesting trend on Google Trends that leads me to believe that perhaps I should be less concerned with the subject matter of my content, and perhaps more with the language I communicate it in.

There seem to be few searches coming out of the United States && || in English for advanced computer science topics. As an example: a Google Trend search for “genetic algorithm”

Interestingly, Tehran, Iran is looking for "genetic algorithms" the hardest...


Look for yourself: These similar searches get nearly identical results:

I performed some number crunching on the export files Google Trends provides, and gained a bit more insight:

Google provides both a integer rank for each language used (1st, 2nd place…), as well as a decimal weight for each language.  While English routinely scored at 2nd place, the weight difference between 1st and 2nd was often 2:1 .
For example: in the Google Trend search for “Data Structures,”  Tagalog takes the 1st spot, and English the 2nd. However, the weight between the two languages is 1:0.405
Here are the weighted scores and average weight from several computer science related search queries:
language Average dynamic programming Graph Theory Functional Programming Artificial Intelligence Data Structures
Tagalog 0.63 0.375 1 1 1 1
English 0.31 0.315 0.52 0.57 0.35 0.405
Korean 0.25 1 0.725
Chinese 0.13 0.27 0.275 0.23 0.13
Swedish 0.13 0.15 0.625 0.105
Indonesian 0.08 0.345 0.23
Dutch 0.08 0.08 0.09 0.265 0.12
Arabic 0.06 0.09 0.125 0.13 0.105
Russian 0.06 0.335 0.07
German 0.06 0.075 0.09 0.205 0.03
Finnish 0.05 0.345
Danish 0.05 0.335
Thai 0.04 0.15 0.095
Romainian 0.03 0.18
Turkish 0.02 0.07 0.055
Polish 0.02 0.12
French 0.01 0.07 0.015
Italian 0.01 0.07
Portuguese 0.00 0.03
Spanish 0.00 0.025
Persian 0.00

So whats the point?

As an English speaker, United States citizen, and programmer, I’m pretty inclined to believe that English is the language of programming. In fact, observing the programming world lends me to this same conclusion:

  • Every programming language I’ve used or encountered is written in English
  • Documentation is in English
  • Programming tools (compilers, IDEs, servers…) written in English

Have the creators of programming content missed the language boat on content?  I don’t believe so. While few native English speakers understand Tagalog, it seems possible that a majority of native Tagalog speakers understand English. However, this whole revelation of the language and locations of search queries makes me re-think some of the assumptions that I have make in writing technical material, such as the use of humor, assumption of similar situations, idioms, etc…

So, when you write your next blog post, be sure to say Pagbati!  to most of your visitors.

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