;The imbalance in links is far greater than relative numbers would suggest. Once again, if you assumed that links were completely independent of language, you would expect about 54% of all Icelandic links to point to English sites, and 0.9% of English links to point to Icelandic ones. Predictably enough, both languages have fewer links to each other because of the language barrier, but to a very different degree. Icelandic blogs underlink to English ones by a factor of about 4.5 (54% predicted,12% actual). But English blogs underlink Icelandic ones by a factor of 80. Just the fact that they’re writing in Icelandic makes these 3,000 bloggers eighty times less visible to us than an equivalent group of English-language bloggers would be. I propose we call this ‘underlinking’ coefficient the “Bennett Factor”, in honor of the great thinker who said “Our common language is English. And our common task is to ensure that our non-English-speaking children learn this common language.” Our Bennett Factors to other languages remain astronomical. We continue to keep ourselves isolated from world opinion, which is particularly troubling at a time when our country’s politics are becoming more exceptionalist and unilateral.
Posted May 27, 2003