Using Google public data to compare geopolitical strength of languages

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

I think it was a month or two back when doing searches for terms like "GDP (country name)" began to turn up direct links to Google public data, a section of Google where data over long periods of time can be compared country by country and in some cases state by state within the US. Though it doesn't make sense to choose a language for geopolitical reasons alone (since individual interest really is the only thing that can sustain a person through the years of study needed to master a language) it's still fun to now be able to make such easy comparisons. Let's say you're in an argument over which Scandinavian language is the "strongest". Just select a few countries and voila, now we have a list of all the countries where Scandinavian languages are official (Swedish is technically official in Finland too, though still used by a minority).

Compared to population:

And finally GDP per capita:

Or lets say you're online and a silly discussion is going on regarding whether someone should learn German or Chinese and comparative GDP comes up again. That's easy to do too even with a larger number of countries. Mouseover one line and the rest will fade away while the number will be shown, making it easy to make a quick sum. In this case the countries where Chinese is official vs. those where German is (except for parts of Belgium and Italy) have about the same GDP, about $4.5 trillion each.

Some of the other datasets that can be compared can be seen here.

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