For example, a 78-character long tweet in English could be as short as only 24 characters in Chinese.

Concise languages make for excellent microblogging

This makes Chinese ideal!

Twitter, along with other microblogs, restricts users to write their messages in 140 characters or less.

Consequently some languages seemingly fit better than others into the concept of a concise tweet.


Most Chinese messages will never reach the full 140 character available!

The Chinese government however have used the Great Firewall of China to block access to Twitter for its citizens, but they do have access to its Chinese equivalent Weibo, which has over 250 million users.

Arabic is also idyllic for use on microblogs. According to The Economist, it fares second only to Chinese in a character study. The study tested the change in length when translating 1,000 characters including spaces, from English into other languages.

It showed that Arabic uses around 17% fewer characters than English. The reason why Arabic is so brief is because when written it often omits vowels. There are over 2 million tweets per day in Arabic and it is the eighth most-used language on the site.

Wordy language

Spanish and Portuguese users of microblogs have a little more trouble abiding by the 140 character convention, as these languages tend to be wordier.

Spanish, Hungarian, Italian, Tagalog and German are all long-winded, being an extra 20% or more, longer than their English translation.

Tricks to reduce the number of characters

Although some languages have come up with sneaky ways to get around this!

Brevity is brought about in Portuguese by using abbreviations such as ‘‘abs” for abraços (hugs) and “bjs” for beijos (kisses).

LOL (laugh out loud)

On the other hand English seems to lend itself reasonably well to microblogging, it allows personal pronouns to be dropped, and has no fiddly accents. There is also a useful accumulation of abbreviations stockpiled to lend a hand.

During the Arab spring many revolutionaries chose to use English in their messages as to reach a larger audience than their native language would accomplish.

Using English also helps avoid restriction. On Weibo, messages containing some Chinese characters are automatically blocked, so English translations of these characters have been used in order to escape the ruthless censors.

So hopefully now you have an idea which languages are favourable for use on Twitter and which are not!

Using an alternate language means you may not have to spend so much of your time editing messages in order to reach that all important goal of 140 characters.