My impression is that most math papers (and almost all of the most important ones) are now published in English. Not long ago (historically) publishing in French, German, Russian, etc. were more common. I'm curious when and how this transition occurred, and what it looked like while it was happening.
Of course English is the dominant language for many other areas such as publications in the sciences in general, international business, the internet, etc. Nonetheless I have the impression that the transition occurred later and more slowly in math than in some of these other areas. This may be false; I don't know why I think this.
Perhaps I have this idea because math graduate programs are unique among technical fields in having a language requirement, though that could also be explained by our tendency to read more old papers than say, biologists. But it seems plausible that the transition would occur later in math because math can be more easily undertaken as a solitary activity than the sciences.
My main question is: where would I find data on the representation of different languages in papers in top math journals as, say, a fraction of total papers? Of course I could try to determine what the top journals were at various times and go through their tables of contents for each issue and compile such data myself. But it seems plausible someone may have already done a study of this and in much more depth than I would have time to do by myself.
Secondarily, perhaps there are published anecdotal accounts about how and when this transition occurred? I can imagine there may have been resistance by some. It may have happened at different times in different subfields for different reasons. Perhaps some landmark papers in English paved the way.
I would be grateful for pointers to literature examining any of these issues. Comparisons with other fields such as physics would also be interesting, but I'm primarily interested in math.