30 November 2008

United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, (Great) Britain in the US

I investigated a little bit further along the lines of my "United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Italy in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian" posts 1 and 2. This time, I faced off the same five European countries but only among US Googlers:

France was no. 1, followed by Italy. It was however odd that the UK with whom Americans share a common language and are culturally and politically closely linked, came in dead last. As mentioned before, France's recurring summer peak was due to the Tour de France. Let's have a look at the state rankings for interest in the five countries, beginning with the UK:

Among this smaller volume of searches, DC, New York and Illinois stood out. Mississippi came last. How about France?

The top 3 consisted of DC, New York and California. South Dakota came in dead last. Just like with the UK, the political and trade ties probably pushed DC to the top. Louisiana, which you would expect to be interested in France, didn't make the top 10. Next, Germany:

Michigan led for this country, followed by Wisconsin and DC. Could this have something to do with a larger share of German-Americans in the first two states? Louisiana thought the least about Germany. Then came Spain:

New York led, New Jersey was a close second and third was Florida. The pattern seemed to correlate with the distribution of Hispanics in the US. Oklahoma ended up last. Finally, Italy:

For Italy, it was New York, Connecticut and then New Jersey. South Dakota didn't care much for the Mediterranean "boot." I was still puzzled about the low score for the UK though: maybe "the United Kingdom" was a tad too bureaucratic a term, not what people type into the Google search box? I tested this theory by comparing the constituent parts of the UK:

England blew the competition as well as the UK out of the water: more than 13 times higher Google-popularity than the UK. Northern Ireland barely registered. A caveat however was apparent when looking at the state rankings: the New England states made up the top 6, in other words, a lot of the hits may be for the New England region rather than England.

One more test: I faced off Britain, Great Britain (also often used terms) and the UK:

Britain was tops, Great Britain was last. The term Great Britain—from which the automobile country code "GB" is derived—covers England, Wales and Scotland. The full name of the UK is actually the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Why is Britain "great"? Originally, "greater" distinguished it from "lesser" Britain, i.e., Brittany in France. Remember William the Conqueror and the French connections? Later, it was used to cement the union of England and Scotland. Britain in its proper use is then the geographical entity of the island containing Scotland, Wales and England. Of course, common usage conflates all this ;-)

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