Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Parlez-vous Français?

Gina and I were having a conversation today about languages.
I discovered a couple of days ago that the city with the 2nd largest
number of French speakers in the world is nowhere near France.
In fact, after Paris, the city with most French speakers is Kinshasa.
Where?!? Kinshasa. The capital of the Democratic Republic of
The Congo...in central Africa. And it turns out, that The Congo
never "belonged" to France, but to Belgium (which also speaks
French..well at least half of it).

What this pretty much means is that the world is becoming a
smaller place. It's been said that if you could speak five
certain languages, you could speak with 80% of the world's

Mandarin Chinese (1.12 billion)
English (480 million)
Spanish (320 million)
Russian (285 million)
French (265 million)
Hindi/Urdu (250 million)
Arabic (221 million)
Portuguese (188 million)
Bengali (185 million)
Japanese (133 million)
German (109 million)

So, if you spoke Mandarin, English, Spanish, Russian and French,
think about how many people you could speak with! I feel I
speak English fairly well since it's my native tongue. And I
speak Spanish marginally. That's two out of five. However,
I fail miserably on Mandarin, Russian and French. We're lucky
in America because the world is quickly becoming Lingua Anglica.
It may be linguistically jingoistic of me, but I feel if we all learn
one language, it will help us get along better. (it also wouldn't
hurt if we try to learn another language as well!) Will knowing
English and Spanish help me in Paris...or Kinshasa for that matter,
but being able to say "Je ne parle pas le français, parlez-vous anglais"
might help everyone get along better!

1 comment:

Benjamin said...

I have contended for years that the world should all speak Latin. For one, it is a dead language so it is not a matter of everyone adapting to one country's language (like those that say everyone in the world should speak English). Secondly, it is the foundation for so many languages, so it would be easier for those that speak English, French, Spanish, Italian...already to slide into the Latin.