dotSUB emails

dotSUB has a sporadical email blast that most often ends up in the trash, but the latest was very interesting.

The video of the CEO David Orban talking to Forbes magazine has a few interesting points about how subtitling can help make an online video go viral:

“The example is that of a video in German—a six-minute piece of investigative journalism about a compensation scandal at the European Parliament—which has been uploaded by a user on dotSUB, and gained a few hundred views per day, even if it has been translated in English”, he recalls. “Until another user translated it in Czech, and it exploded, gaining over 900,000 views in the Czech Republic in three weeks.”

A few weeks later,  ”somebody else translated it in French, and once again, the video went viral in France, gaining over 600,000 views in two weeks.” Subtitles online can crash through the language barrier, offering more than mere translation. Sometimes it’s just the right turbocharge.

Remember to bring your own grains of salt – dotSUB does good work, but they are still a commercial firm.

Of more interest to me, and to those of you with a linguistic bent, is the top ten list of languages by number of native speakers. It’s not amazingly suprising: Mandarin, Spanish and English being the top three for instance, but is interesting none the less. It’s ripped straight from Wikipedia’s more comprehensive list of languages by number of native speakers and given the tabloid top ten treatment.

The wiki page is at least honest enough to understand that there will be some ambiguity when it comes to “what is a language”:

Since the definition of a single language is to some extent arbitrary, some mutually intelligible idioms with separate national standards or self-identification have been listed together, including Hindi-Urdu; Indonesian and Malay; Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian; Punjabi; Tibetan, etc.

Most interesting to me were the ordering from about position #9 – Japanese, in itself a surprise to me. One of those strange surprises where you think “really? That high?” before you read the rest of the list and slowly nod to yourself.

That Javanese comes above languages like French is odd, as is the number of Dravidian languages that come above European languages. I feel like there are some language groups that have a finer splitting than others, in a way that gives the impression of unequal treatment. But I’m not an expert, it just seems like that to me.