Furry is an international phenomenon, and English is our predominant language. All our large conventions, from Anthrocon to Eurofurence to Japan Meeting of Furries to Russfurence, cater to English speakers. Attend any of these and you’ll find furries with English as their second or third or fourth language, communicating and participating in our lingua franca.
For a native English speaker, it’s easy to overlook non-English-speaking furry. But it exists, and as best we can tell, the next two biggest furry languages are Russian and Italian.
We are really pleased to be able to present here, for the first time, data from an Italian furry survey (Sondaggio Furry Italiano), that was open over 2012/13. The survey was entirely in Italian, and the results to date have only been published in Italian. Thanks to [a][s] contributor MrMandolino (who is Italian), we can present them here in English. (We’re also republishing the results, and a translation of this article, in Italian.)
It’s not easy to understand why Italian appears more common among furry than, say, French. Italy and France have a similar population (60 vs 66 million) and similar levels of English-speaking (ref).
The Furry Survey is published in English only, so we’re not able to estimate the proportion of other languages directly. However we can infer by looking at the difference between responses to the Furry Survey and activity online.
From the Furry Survey, we can see that less than 1% of the respondents live in Italy:
This data is from the 2013 Furry Survey, which had 7159 responses. The number of Italians was 23, which is 0.3%. This result is consistent with results from all surveys from 2009 to 2015.
Not surprisingly, the survey is dominated by furries from English-speaking countries.
We can guess at the prevalence of non-English languages within furry by looking at Wikifur metrics. Wikifur, like Wikipedia, supports pretty much any language you care to name:
The disparity between the number of Italians responding to the Furry Survey (in English) and the number of Wikifur pages (in Italian) suggests that there might be a significant Italian-speaking furry group. (We’re also looking at the other obviously large group, the Russians.)
This is just guesswork of course. The evidence is far from definitive that a significant Italian-speaking furry group exists, and while Mando is in touch with the Italian furs, the size of the community itself is extremely hard to judge.
The Sondaggio Furry Italiano is a long survey with 37 questions, and you can read them in full, in English, here. Highlights are given below.
The Sondaggio Italiano ran from late 2012 to early 2013, and received 103 responses. That’s not a lot, but it is enough to get a good feel for the demographics of the group. As with the Furry Survey, it’s impossible to poll people who don’t fill in the survey, so we can’t measure any inherent selection bias.
I’ve provided the (English) Furry Survey results from 2013 for comparison, which had 7159 responses.
The Sondaggio Italiano asks for sex, but not gender. The results suggest that the Italian group is (even) more male-dominated than the English-speaking group.
The Sondaggio Italiano was shared on online forums, a medium not always known for being welcoming towards women. It’s possible that this informs the sex breakdown. Other demographics show strong similarities with the English Furry Survey, as we shall see.
The Italian- and English-speaking groups have a very similar age distribution.
The “jumpy” nature of the Italian distribution is due to the smaller sample size. It’s easy to see here why small sample sizes have larger uncertainty ranges: a small number of (say) 36 year-olds can create an outlier that looks (but isn’t) significant.
As a general rule we don’t publish uncertainty ranges when we present data here on [a][s]. We prefer to simply show raw data, to keep things simple (for a lay reader) and to avoid obscuring the data itself. For all these results, please keep in mind that the Italian data is subject to a lot more uncertainty than the English data.
The proportion of students in furry, again, is similar between the two groups (statistically, these two results are said to be “identical”). Age is obviously a contributing factor here.
Remarkably, the Italian and English furry groups show a very similar distribution of sexual orientation. This pattern—where straight, gay, and bisexual groups are in mostly equal proportion—is unusual.
This is a surprising result because there are significant differences in cultural attitudes towards homosexuality between the two groups. More than 80% of Italians are Catholic, and at the time of writing is the only major country in Western Europe that does not recognise either civil unions or equal marriage.
For the Italian-speaking group to show the same sexual orientation demographics as the English-speaking group suggests that there is something about furry that attracts such a group. It’s very difficult to draw any definitive conclusions about furry, because we are such a diverse and decentralized group. This result suggests that our relationship to sex and sexuality is important to understanding furry as a whole.
There are many, many more fascinating results to explore in the Sondaggio Furry Italiano results. You can read through the full set of results, which includes commentary and discussion (translated into English) here.