Towards Personalized Multilingual Information Access - Exploring the Browsing and Search Behavior of Multilingual Users

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The shift from the originally English-language-dominated web towards a truly global world wide web has generated a pressing need to develop novel solutions that address multilingual user diversity. In particular, many web users today are polyglots, i.e. they are proficient in more than one language. However, little is known about the browsing and search habits of such users, and even less about how to best assist their multilingual behaviors through appropriate systems and tools. In order to gain a better understanding, this paper presents a survey of 385 polyglot web users, focusing specifically on the relationship between multiple language proficiency and browsing/search language choice. Results from the survey indicate that polyglot users make significant use of multiple languages during their daily browsing and searching, and that contextual factors such as language proficiency, usage purpose, and topic domain have a significant influence on their language choice and frequency. The paper provides a detailed analysis regarding each of these factors, and offers insights about how to support multilingual users through novel Personalized Multilingual Information Access systems.