Thursday, September 28, 2017

Twitter ups character limit to 280 but not for Korean

Interesting post from the official Twitter blog today. They crunched the numbers and scientifically came to the same conclusion anybody who tweets in Korean had already known: you can say a lot more in 140 characters of Korean than English.

Twitter's character limit counts one Korean character, which is really a whole syllable, as one "letter." Meaning you can actually cram in 140 syllables in Korean, but just 140 letters in English. Consider how my name, Sam, would take up 3 of your 140 limit in English, but 샘 takes just 1. That's a savings of 300%! Or something.

Anyway, in regards to this consideration, Twitter is holding back its new raised character limit from the CJK languages.

Here are the two relevant quotes from their official blog post:

We're going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean).

We see that a small percent of Tweets sent in Japanese have 140 characters (only 0.4%). But in English, a much higher percentage of Tweets have 140 characters (9%). Most Japanese Tweets are 15 characters while most English Tweets are 34.
Giving you more characters to express yourself

They include this handy illustration that shows the character count of the same tweet in 3 languages:

  • The English version uses 140 characters
  • The Spanish version uses 154 characters
  • The Japanese version uses 67 characters

Image: Twitter

Twitter posted the same content on their Korean langauge blog too. Here are those same two tidbits for your Korean friends:

트윗 글자수에 더 많은 제약을 받는 언어권을 위해 280자로 트윗 제한을 늘려보는 것입니다. (위에서 설명드린 이유로 일본어, 한국어, 중국어권은 이번 시도에서 제외됩니다)

일본어 트윗의 경우 0.4% 만이 140자 전체를 활용합니다. 영어 트윗을 보면 훨씬 높은 비율은 9%가 140자 전체를 사용하고 있습니다. 일본어 트윗 중 가장 많은 비중을 차지하는 글자수는 15자 이내인 반면 영어 트윗은 34자입니다.
트윗 글자수 확대에 대한 우리의 생각

You will notice that they focused on Japanese for their examples. But the same thing is true in Korean.

Consider for example these headline pairs from article translations in the Chosun Ilbo. Assume you were going to post these on Twitter. How would they compare? Both headline pairs are identical in English and Korean:

Prosecutors Seek to Extend Park's Detention (43 characters)
검찰, 박前대통령 구속 연장 요청 (18 characters)

Fitch Rating Firm Assess N.Korean Risk (38 characters)
피치 '북한 리스크' 평가 위해 訪韓 (20 characters)

In each case, the Korean version conveys the same information in much less space. So apparently Twitter feels it's unnecessary to bump up the limit. Makes sense I guess.

This could all be a moot point anyway, since it seems like most Korean newsmakers take to Facebook rather than Twitter. I don't even like Twitter anyway. I never forgave it for what it did to RSS.

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