A Brief Study on Firefox Language Support

December 29, 2015

When perusing Firefox's download page, have you ever pondered the large list of languages that Firefox supports, and wondered how many people could speak each of them? I had, and thus I decided to investigate a bit to see how much of the world's population could use Firefox in their native language.

As of today (with Firefox 43.0.2), Firefox supports 85 languages. I used statistics on native speakers from Wikipedia, many of which are sourced from the Swedish Nationalencyklopedin, to figure out how many people natively speak those languages.

All these numbers should be taken as rough estimates, for example due to changing demographics (numbers of people speaking the language), and the nature of what is considered one's native language. It's also worth considering that many people who speak a native language Firefox does not support may understand another language it does.

In short, I found that about 71.6% of people can use Firefox in their native language. All of the world's 11-most-spoken native languages (through German) are supported by Firefox, and these account for approximately 47% of the world's population. All in all, I'd consider over 70% to be pretty good.

Which languages aren't supported? The languages in the top 50 that aren't supported are:

The other 36 of the top 50 are all supported. It is noticeable that none of the missing languages from the top 50 are European languages.

What are the least-spoken languages that Firefox supports?

Other than Esperanto and Acholi, these are all European languages. There's definitely some geographic bias! But I do find it interesting. Three languages from Spain are in the list (Aragonese, Asturian, and Basque - Catalan is also supported, but has more speakers). Both Upper and Lower Sorbian have very few speakers, but have support - quite possibly a local effort? And Acholi, the first non-European language in this list, is spoken in Uganda.

In the future, I plan to look at the language support of other browsers as well (Vivaldi is up next), and perhaps also look at how that has evolved over time.

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