STATS: English, Spanish and Portuguese on the Internet

English, Spanish and Portuguese comprise three of the top five languages on the Web. Let’s take a look at some statistics reflecting these languages’ influence on the Internet.


  • Number of native English-speaking users on the Web: 565.0 million (as of May 31, 2011)
    % of English-speaking Internet users with respect to total population of English speakers: 43.4%
  • User growth from 2000 to 2011: 301.4%
  • Percentage of total Internet users: 26.8% (Overall ranking among top 10 languages: #1)
  • % of websites available in English (as of December 31, 2011): 56.6%


  • Number of native Spanish-speaking users on the Web: 165.0 million (as of May 31, 2011)
  • % of Spanish-speaking Internet users with respect to total population of Spanish speakers: 39.0%
  • User growth from 2000 to 2011: 807.4%
  • Percentage of total Internet users: 7.8% (Overall ranking among top 10 languages: #3)
  • % of websites available in Spanish (as of December 31, 2011): 4.6%


  • Number of native Portuguese-speaking users on the Web: 82.6 million (as of May 31, 2011)
  • % of Portuguese-speaking Internet users with respect to total population of Portuguese speakers: 32.5%
  • User growth from 2000 to 2011: 990.1%
  • Percentage of total Internet users: 3.9% (Overall ranking among top 10 languages: #5)
  • % of websites available in Portuguese (as of December 31, 2011): 2.0%

A quick analysis of the numbers points to the following facts that translation buyers should be aware of:

» Figures show that there’s still a great deal of room for growth among all three languages, in terms of the number of users and the amount of content available. Although English leads the charge as the “language of the Web,” not even half of all English speakers are on the ‘net, and Spanish and Portuguese lag even farther behind. As the economic outlook continues to improve in Latin America and Brazil, user growth among speakers of Spanish and Portuguese should be particularly strong.

» Despite an explosion in the number of Internet users among the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking populations over the last decade, access to content in those languages remains severely limited. Those businesses looking for a competitive edge will invest in translations of their web content into Spanish and/or Portuguese.

Statistical data courtesy of Internet World Stats and Wikipedia

More information on the English Language
More information on the Spanish Language
More information on the Portuguese Language


How Knowing Spanish Can Help You Learn Portuguese

Knowledge of any Romance language automatically offers learners a leg-up when they undertake the study of another language in that family; however, those with a solid base in Spanish have a particular advantage when it comes to studying Portuguese, given that the two languages share a great deal of vocabulary and similar grammar. While linguistic differences certainly exist between Spanish and Portuguese, language learners with a strong background in Spanish will find obtaining fluency in Portuguese to be a very attainable goal (and vice versa for Portuguese speakers).

Linguists have determined that Spanish shares an 89% lexical similarity (the degree to which the word sets of any two languages are similar) with Portuguese,[1] and, overall, the two languages exhibit a fair degree of mutual intelligibility, roughly 50% according to one study.[2] With such a large chunk of shared vocabulary and closely related grammars, those with Spanish fluency can read and understand a significant portion of a text written in Portuguese, although understanding the spoken word presents a greater challenge due to considerable pronunciation differences.

Spanish speakers studying Portuguese must make an effort to avoid two main mistakes. First, while the two languages do share quite a bit of vocabulary, they are also rife with false cognates (also known as false friends). False cognates can make for some rather confusing (and occasionally, entertaining!) situations. Don’t fall for them—make an effort to memorize which words are false friends. Second, avoid lapsing into portuñol, the dialect best described as a mix of Spanish and Portuguese. Spanish speakers just beginning their Portuguese studies may be tempted to use Spanish pronunciation, grammar constructions or vocabulary when their Portuguese fails them; however, it’s important to respect the differences between the two languages and keep them separate.

Check out the website Tá Falado with podcasts and lessons geared toward Spanish speakers looking to learn Brazilian Portuguese.

Examples of false friends

Portuguese Spanish
Acordar: to wake up Acordar: to remember, to agree
Ano: year Ano: anus
Apelido: nickname (Brazil) Apellido: last name
Barata: cockroach Barata: cheap
Borracha: rubber, eraser Borracha: drunk (female)
Cena: scene Cena: dinner
Esquisito: weird, odd Exquisito: delicious, exquisite
Fechar: to close Fechar: to date
Oi: Hi Hoy: Today
Largo: wide Largo: long
Latido: barking Latido: heartbeat
Logro: fraud Logro: success, achievement
Mala: suitcase, bag Mala: bad, naughty (female)
Ninho: nest Niño: child
Osso: bone Oso: bear
Polvo: octopus Polvo: dust
Saco: bag Saco: jacket
Salada: salad Salada: salty
Solo: soil, earth, floor Solo: alone, lonely
Taça: wineglass Tasa: valuation, tax, rate
Tirar: take, remove Tirar: to throw
Todavia: but, still, however, notwithstanding Todavia: still, yet

[1] Source:

[2] Source:

How to Type Foreign Language Characters and Accents

For translators, those studying a foreign language, or anyone living in a bilingual environment, the need to type foreign language characters or accents frequently arises. This situation poses a problem for those utilizing English language keyboards, since accent keys and other characters unique to Spanish or Portuguese, for example, are non-existent. However, it’s simple to set up additional keyboard layouts in Microsoft Windows, which allows you to switch between an English keyboard and a foreign language keyboard with just one click as you’re typing, whether in a word processing program or in your browser. This method will work with most, but not all, Windows applications.

Directions for adding keyboards in Windows 7:

  • Click Start>Control Panel>Clock, Language and Region>Change keyboards or other input methods
  • In the new window, click on the Change keyboards button. This action opens a new window called Text Services and Input Languages.
  • Click on the Add button. Scroll down to the desired keyboard and double click on the name of the language. Double click on Keyboard and place a check next to the specific language option you want. Click OK within that window. Click Apply then OK in the Text Services and Input Languages window.

You’ll find that keyboard layouts are available for a number of languages; however, it’s important to note that these layouts do not always correspond to the classic QWERTY layout used on U.S. English keyboards. Some characters—punctuation marks in particular—will not match those printed on your keys.

Once you’ve installed the additional language keyboards, holding down Alt + shift will allow you to toggle between the various languages. You can also click on the language bar icon in the system tray to switch to a different language.

If you use a limited set of special characters or accents across a number of applications, it may be worthwhile to learn some Alt key codes while maintaining the default U.S. English keyboard settings. This method involves pressing the Alt key plus a numeric code (using the number pad with Num Lock on) corresponding to an accented letter or special character. The Alt key codes work in virtually all programs. Below are some examples of codes:

ALT + 0225 = á
ALT + 0233 = é
ALT + 0237 = í
ALT + 0243 = ó
ALT + 0250 = ú
ALT + 0241 = ñ

Latin American Spanish Keyboard Layout

European Spanish Keyboard Layout

Brazilian Portuguese Keyboard

Translating for Non-profits

Non-profit organizations and NGOs focus on improving the lives of others through diverse initiatives targeted at issues such as housing, social welfare, the environment, health care, education and human rights. These organizations typically require translation services to effectively explain their vision to a global audience, carry out their campaigns and fundraising efforts, and to communicate with those whom their programs benefit and serve. The social impact of materials translated for non-profit organizations must be carefully considered, along with the fact that virtually all agencies of this type function under budgetary constraints.

In the United States alone, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of non-profit organizations taking action to better the lives of the Latino community through their programs and initiatives. Non-profit organizations aimed at serving Hispanics are particularly vital to recent immigrants, who benefit from assistance without the difficulty of the language and culture barrier. Some of the largest non-profits devoted to the U.S. Hispanic community include the ASPIRA Association, Hispanic Housing Development Corp., the National Council of La Raza, and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

Non-profit agencies are particularly involved in South America, with many organizations choosing to focus on Brazil. The non-profit sector in Brazil is expanding, with U.S. companies such as Walmart supporting philanthropic activities in Brazil as a means to establish a presence in this fast-growing, influential economy. It’s essential for Brazilian non-profit organizations looking to solicit donations from corporate entities and foundations abroad to translate their materials from Portuguese.

A non-profit organization in its initial stages may have little to no budget for translation services. In this case, non-profits will sometimes connect with student translators or linguists just starting their careers who are in need of “résumé builders.” Experienced translators – who are likelier to turn out a high quality translation – often work for more established NGOs or non-profit agencies at reduced rates, as a way to give something back to the community.

If you’re a representative of a non-profit organization or NGO, click here to learn more about Transpanish’s discounted translation rate for non-profits.

Related articles:
Translations for Non-profits in a Bad Economy
Latinos and the Non-profit sector

Target an Audience of 650 Million with Spanish and Portuguese Translations

As the competition in the global marketplace heats up, companies without a strategy for connecting with customers worldwide face a strong possibility of getting left behind. Savvy companies and organizations stand to capture upwards of a combined 650 million potential customers by incorporating Spanish and Portuguese translation into their business strategy. As the influence and economic power of emerging Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets continues to grow, companies that invest in high-quality translations to target this audience will see dividends.

Spanish is the most widely spoken of the Romance languages, both in terms of the number of speakers and the number of countries in which it is the dominant language. With approximately 400 million native speakers worldwide, Spanish is currently the second most widely spoken language overall. At present, Portuguese ranks sixth among the world’s major languages, with some 250 million native speakers around the world. Portuguese and Spanish are both recognized by UNESCO as the fastest growing of the European languages.

Why Spanish Translation?

The expanding presence of the Spanish language coupled with increased Latino buying power has cemented the Hispanic demographic’s influence in the United States. U.S. Latinos‘ buying power is expected to reach $1 trillion this year. Given the Hispanic market’s incredible growth, size, and increasing purchasing power, businesses and organizations cannot afford to overlook this segment of the population.

As the emerging markets of Latin America, particularly Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Peru, gain a stronger foothold, they become increasingly attractive sources of new clientele for those businesses looking to target new audiences. A well-crafted, Spanish translation done by a professional translator will help corporations and organizations communicate with the Hispanic community, both at home and abroad, to take advantage of the business opportunities provided by these rapidly expanding markets.

Why Portuguese Translation?

Over the last twenty years, Brazil has steadily grown to become Latin America’s largest economy. With a robust economic outlook and a population of about 190 million people, companies can no longer ignore Brazil. Given the country’s strong, stable currency and a growing middle class with a hunger for imported goods, reaching the Brazilian market appears to be more crucial than ever before for businesses. Although Brazil is the sole Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas, approximately one-half of South America’s inhabitants speak the language. In today’s global economy, it pays to be able to communicate effectively with the Portuguese-speaking population.

Brazil also expects a significant tourism boost over the next few years as the country plays host to two major international sporting events: the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Translation from Portuguese to a host of other languages will be necessary to accommodate the scores of foreign athletes, tourists and journalists who will descend upon Brazil for these events.

Translate for the Spanish and Portuguese markets to extend your business’ or organization’s reach, and connect with everyone from the customers right in your backyard to those in the far-flung corners of Latin America.

Are you looking for a Portuguese Translator? Visit TransPortuguese.
Are you looking for a Spanish Translator? Visit Transpanish.

When Never to Use Google Translate

While Google Translate and similar machine translation tools do offer a means for readers to achieve a basic understanding of a text, computers fail to render the nuanced, culturally correct translations created by humans. Machine translation frequently proves useful to decipher blogs, Facebook posts or tweets in a foreign language, but this technology falls short when the occasion calls for precise language, carefully crafted wording, and subtle turns of phrase.

Machine translation will never learn to pick up on the cultural undertones and subtleties at play in language. Jokes, idioms and wordplay are largely lost on Google Translate, which fails to capture the “flavor” of the text.

The following types of translations should never be left up to Google Translate or any other machine translation tool:

  • Sales and marketing texts requiring both linguistic and cultural understanding
  • Patent translations or other technical literature where accuracy carries great importance
  • Medical and pharmaceutical texts, particularly when such information may mean a matter of life or death
  • Legal texts such as contracts, court orders, and wills, where any error in the text may have profound legal implications
  • Any document that represents the public face of your business or organization, including websites, brochures, manuals, etc.

Recently, some translation service providers have begun offering post-edited machine translations as an alternative to professional human translations; however, it is the experience of many translation agencies that it actually takes more time for a skilled translator to proofread and edit a machine translation than to create a translation from scratch.

A high quality translation of your documents, website, etc. will prove to be invaluable in terms of projecting an image of professionalism and integrity for your business or organization. Open up your product or business to an audience of some 330 million Spanish speakers worldwide through a professional translation of your text. A relatively modest investment in translated materials for your business will continue to pay dividends long into the future.

Request your Free Quote for Spanish Translations and Portuguese Translations.

Related articles:
Google Translate and the Struggle for Accurate Machine Translations
The Machine Translation Debate
Machine Translation vs. Human Translation: Pay Less, Get Less

Language an Obstacle for Internet Users in European Union

A recent study conducted by Eurobarometer, the European Commission’s survey research program, found that more than 50% of Internet users in the European Union (EU) sometimes access the web using a language other than their mother tongue. In addition, the study revealed that 90% of EU Internet users show a preference for websites featured in their native language.

Nonetheless, 44% of survey respondents sensed that they were “missing something interesting online” since a number of websites display information in a language they don’t comprehend.

Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, wrote, “If we are serious about making every European digital, we need to make sure that they can understand the web content they want. We are developing new technologies that can help people that cannot understand a foreign language.”

At the present time, the European Commission is funding 67 million euros’ worth of research projects to enhance translation techniques for online content, including the site iTranslate4, which generates machine translations of several European languages.

For more information on this topic, read this article on the news site Deutsche Welle.

Portuñol: A Blend of Spanish and Portuguese

Portuñol or portunhol – a dialect based on code-switching between Spanish and Portuguese – has resulted from prolonged contact between the inhabitants of border areas. Emerging over time as a sort of lingua franca for those living in immigrant communities or in trade zones where speakers lacked fluency in the other group’s language, portuñol can be described as a hybrid mixture of Spanish and Portuguese with a smattering of influences from indigenous languages. Portuñol speakers are concentrated in the border areas between Argentina and Brazil, Paraguay and Brazil, and Uruguay and Brazil.

The most uniform and structured variation of portuñol, known as portuñol riverense or fronterizo, is spoken near the Uruguay-Brazil border, specifically in and around the area surrounding the twin cities of Rivera, Uruguay and Santana do Livramento, Brazil. Although most linguists consider portuñol riverense to be primarily a Portuguese-based dialect, other variants of portuñol retain more of a Spanish flavor.

In the past few years, a number of literary works in portuñol have been produced, largely by Uruguayan and Brazilian authors. One of the most celebrated examples of portuñol literature is a novel entitled Mar Paraguayo by Wilson Bueno. The use of portuñol has also risen on the Internet, with websites, blogs and chat rooms dedicated to the dialect.

Origin of the word Brazil

The name Brazil is derived from the Portuguese word paubrasil, the name of an East Indian tree with reddish-brown wood from which a red dye was extracted. The Portuguese found a New World tree related to the Old World brasil tree when they explored what is now called Brazil, and as a result they named the New World country after the Old World tree. The word brasil is cognate with French brésil, Old French berzi and bresil, Old Italian verzino, and Medieval Latin brezellum, brasilium, bresillum, braxile. The many Latin forms suggest a non-Latin, non-Romance origin, as in an East Indian term.

Brasil tree


Differences between Spanish and Portuguese

Both Spanish and Portuguese are Indo-European languages derived from Latin, and they developed on the Iberian Peninsula during roughly the same period. Though the two languages are closely related, important differences exist between Spanish and Portuguese, which can create problems for those acquainted with one of the languages when they try to learn the other.

Despite the fact that the Spanish and Portuguese lexicons are very similar, the languages differ significantly in terms of pronunciation. Phonetically, Portuguese bears greater resemblance to French or Catalan while Spanish pronunciation is much closer to Italian. Portuguese includes a greater phonemic inventory than Spanish, which may explain why it is generally more difficult for Spanish speakers to understand, in spite of the strong lexical similarity between the two languages.

Linguistic differences between Spanish and Portuguese appear more pronounced in the written language than in the spoken one due to differences in spelling conventions; however, the two languages do share a great deal of vocabulary that is spelled either exactly the same (but may be pronounced rather differently) or almost the same (but may be pronounced in more or less the same way).

Differences in vocabulary between the two languages evolved due to several reasons:

  • While Spanish retained a great deal of its Mozarabic vocabulary of Arabic origin, Portuguese’s Mozarabic substratum was not as influential. In many cases, Portuguese words of Arabic origin were eventually replaced with Latin roots.
  • During the languages’ development during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Spanish remained more autonomous, while Portuguese was more greatly influenced by other European languages, namely French.
  • Spanish and Portuguese incorporated differing influences from Amerindian, African and Asian languages.

Besides a number of “false friends,” Spanish and Portuguese share several cognates whose meaning is broader in one language than in the other. For example, Spanish makes a distinction between the adjective mucho (much/many) and the adverb muy (very/quite). Portuguese uses muito in both cases.

Generally speaking, Portuguese and Spanish grammars do not greatly differ, though minor differences do exist in terms of possessives, the use of pronouns, certain verb tenses, and prepositions.

For Portuguese Translation, visit our site Transportuguese .