Many of most-spoken languages in the world — like Mandarin, Hindi, and Arabic — are far from being the most influential.
As new MIT-led research suggests, those languages live in relative isolation, while a few tiny tongues are hugely influential.
"A language like Dutch — spoken by 27 million people — can be a disproportionately large conduit, compared with a language like Arabic, which has a whopping 530 million native and second-language speakers,"Science reports. "This is because the Dutch are very multilingual and very online."
To find out which languages are the most influential around the world, MIT researchers Shahar Ronen, César Hidalgo, and their co-authors tracked book translations, multiple language editions of Wikipedia, and multilingual Twitter users to see how languages interact with one another. The below graphs show the connections different languages have with one another through these online platforms, forming what …