And while just saying "beer" to the bartender will likely work in most of the world, you don't want to be stuck asking someone for a beer who only knows آبجو (Persian), or asking for a piwo (Polish) when all they've got is 맥주 (Korean). To aid the faithful followers of the Floating Sheep in their ongoing explorations in landscapes of liquid lubrication, we present the following geolinguistic guide to Europe's landscape of beer.
Because simply mapping references to beer in the world's most spoken languages yielded a relatively homogeneous result due to the significant number of references to "beer" and "ale" in English, we thought a more locally specific analysis would be appropriate. So we instead mapped references to beer in twelve languages spoken primarily in Europe that were not included in our earlier map. And while this map obviously doesn't include all of the many languages spoken on the continent, these languages were chosen because of their relative prominence within a larger sample of languages.
Mapping Beer in Europe's (Relatively) Smaller Languages As we would expect, many countries are dominated by references in their native languages -- Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary display patterns that closely mirror the political borders of the material world.
However, it is the discrepancies where the digital transcends the material expectations that present the most interesting findings. For example, there is an abundance of references in Romanian, even infringing on the virtual territory of Italy, Spain and England (though Spanish and English aren't included in this comparison). While we can have no certain answer, perhaps this is because the Romanian word for beer is "bere", which could of course be an understandable typo for the English-language word. Similarly, Dutch-language references not only fill the entirety of the Netherlands, but also Germany and a not insignificant portion of France. Even Lithuanian references are prominent throughout the Baltic states, despite Estonia's prominence in the global information economy.
Despite the usefulness of this particular grouping, it remains useful to consider how some of the most spoken languages in the world stack up to these more country-specific languages, so in the map below we reintroduce references in English, as well as references in German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, to some of Europe's more widely spoken tongues.
The Globalization of Beer in EuropeWhile this graphic complicates the picture provided by our first map -- there continues to be a significant amount of content in the expected, native languages of each country -- English remains prominent throughout Europe, especially in reference to beer. This could potentially have a number of causes:
- Use of English as a second language by many native Europeans in creating user-generated placemarks, signaling the increasing use of English as a global language.
- Creation of content in English by native English-speakers traveling throughout other parts of Europe.
- Concerted efforts by beer-serving establishments throughout the continent to present English-language content online, so as to attract more English-speaking tourists as patrons.
So while it is always good to learn the local term for beer, the English word seems likely to get you what you were looking for. Or you can try our technique which is to start a bar fight and while everyone is distracted, grab someone's glass and hide under the table.
 Smaller in that they were not one of the world's ten most spoken languages (by # of native speakers).