The GeoSeer Blog

All pages with the tag: Language

Let's look at languages

Posted on 2024-05-28

We've finally implemented a language detector into GeoSeer! This allows us to detect the language of the metadata itself. Needless to say, the first we did was take a look at the stats!

Caveats

As ever there are some caveats:

  • This was done automatically using a model of 97 languages.
  • Most metadata is very short snippets of text.
  • Many datasets and services don't have metadata (Looking at you data custodians!)
  • Some mix languages in their metadata; usually native plus English. I.e.: Prefecture/محافظة, Province/المحافظة (gets picked us Arabic)
  • We filtered out standardised strings (typically English). I.e.: "This is an OGC Compliant WFS"
Our own experimenting showed the model is really good even on small text strings, which is really important here. However, when you're analysing millions of records with the above limitations, even a very low false-positive rate can become a lot of errors. More on them in a bit.

Services

Lets start by looking at services. The following table shows the number of services with metadata records in a given language.

LanguageNumber of ServicesPercent of all Services
No Language122,68325.34%
German313,68464.79%
English20,3984.21%
French11,4472.36%
Spanish5,1131.06%
Polish2,9720.61%
Dutch2,2590.47%
Italian1,5490.32%
Portuguese1,0950.23%
Finnish6090.13%
Czech4940.1%
Catalan369-
Swedish251-
Slovak247-
Croatian183-
Estonian155-
Danish138-
Galician76-
Icelandic62-
Norwegian50-
Latvian48-
Slovenian35-
Hungarian35-
Chinese32-
Thai27-
Norwegian Nynorsk24-
Greek21-
Luxembourgish19-
Basque11-
Japanese10-
Romanian7-
Latin7-
Norwegian Bokmål4-
Welsh4-
Bulgarian3-
Occitan2-
Lithuanian2-
Macedonian1-
Irish1-
Faroese1-
Subtotal484,128-

There are a truly astonishing number of services in German. In fact, it's reasonable to say there are basically just two types of service: German ones, and those that don't have enough metadata to detect a language. Between them those two conditions account for slightly over 90% of all services.

We also see our first mistakes here. The Luxembourgish and Faroese language services are mostly hosted on German domains, with a couple Czech ones, and a Belgian one thrown in. So chances are they're false positives.

And bad news: the ancient Romans probably don't have any spatial web services either: The Latin services seem to be a mixture of explicitly Hungarian ("Hungarian Biogeographical regions view service"), as well as Slovenian, Slovakian, and Czech domains. Linguistically interesting, but probably not time-travelling data.

These false positives similarly hold true for the dataset data, but by no means are all of the low numbers above wrong. We really do have Turkish, Chinese (all via Taiwan), Thai and Japanese services, among others. Though these are dwarfed by the Indo-European languages.

Datasets

Next up, the number of datasets with metadata in a given language. These are non-distinct datasets, so if the same dataset is available via WMS and WFS, it may be counted twice (metadata can be different).

LanguageNumber of DatasetsPercent of all Datasets
No Language1,797,98344.75%
German1,396,84734.76%
English290,6367.23%
Portuguese110,3872.75%
French105,9492.64%
Spanish73,4671.83%
Dutch68,1351.7%
Italian47,9141.19%
Czech24,7810.62%
Polish19,0530.47%
Finnish17,8590.44%
Catalan10,6090.26%
Swedish10,3900.26%
Japanese9,5490.24%
Danish8,3620.21%
Estonian4,3170.11%
Greek4,0470.1%
Slovak2,586-
Icelandic1,791-
Croatian1,785-
Chinese1,766-
Hungarian1,570-
Russian1,047-
Slovenian964-
Latvian753-
Norwegian666-
Basque654-
Thai635-
Romanian629-
Korean625-
Bulgarian312-
Galician256-
Luxembourgish187-
Afrikaans174-
Lithuanian141-
Malagasy134-
Latin114-
Welsh111-
Occitan108-
Walloon106-
Norwegian Nynorsk101-
Aragonese89-
Maltese62-
Irish57-
Swahili51-
Albanian48-
Esperanto46-
Javanese39-
Filipino33-
Kinyarwanda31-
Norwegian Bokmål27-
Bosnian27-
Macedonian26-
Xhosa23-
Breton21-
Hebrew19-
Indonesian18-
Kurdish17-
Volapük16-
Quechua16-
Vietnamese9-
Faroese9-
Haitian Creole6-
Ukrainian4-
Turkish4-
Azerbaijani4-
Malay3-
Kyrgyz2-
Georgian2-
Arabic2-
Subtotal4,018,211-

While German layer metadata is clearly the most numerous, the difference has come down from vast, for 64.7% of services, to merely huge for 34.76% of datasets.

It's also disappointing to see that 44% of datasets don't have enough metadata to make a language determination. Given the tool we're using is happy to take a guess at 10 words or so, that says something about the quality of metadata we're looking at.

Different Strategies

Lets finish with one table that highlights the differing strategies that can be seen between individual countries. The below shows the number of datasets per service that exist for each language.

Language# Datasets per Service# Services# Datasets
No Language Detected14.66122,6831,797,983
Japanese954.9109,549
Greek192.71214,047
Portuguese100.811,095110,387
Danish60.591388,362
Czech50.1649424,781
Swedish41.3925110,390
Italian30.931,54947,914
Dutch30.162,25968,135
Finnish29.3360917,859
Catalan28.7536910,609
Estonian27.851554,317
Slovenian27.5435964
Thai23.5227635
Spanish14.375,11373,467
English14.2520,398290,636
French9.2611,447105,949
Polish6.412,97219,053
German4.45313,6841,396,847

Here we see why there are so many German services: It's evident they're using a service-heavy architecture in their OGC deployments. As a prime example of this, the domain with the most services is German (geodienste.komm.one) hosting no less than 184,358 services. Second place with a "mere" 29,071 services is also German.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have Japan, with an average of 954 datasets per service. It's clear that Japan's geospatial strategy is to be highly centralised. Greece, Denmark, and the Czech republic are all similarly focused on being centralised.

The above uses languages as a proxy for country, which holds true for the above languages (though the German ones could also be Swiss or Austrian, but in this case we don't believe they are).
Portuguese is another matter. We can't make the same claim for Portugal because most of the Portuguese datasets are actually coming from .br domains, at a ratio of about 7 Brazilian datasets for 1 dataset from Portugal. This also makes it hard to draw country-level conclusions about other widely spread languages (English, French, Spanish in particular).

Conclusion

In the above, we've used language as a proxy for country. In the past, we've done similar investigations using Country level domains, and seem similar conclusions (not posted to this blog). So it's nice to see things verified using a completely separate mechanism. In summary:

  • People and organisations remain terrible at creating metadata.
  • Germany has a very service-focused architecture, probably a consequence of governmental policy.
  • Japan and Greece are very centralised in their geospatial services.
  • Language detection is an interesting if difficult problem, especially on small samples of text.
Blog content licensed as: CC-BY-SA 4.0