Monday, November 23, 2009

How We Will Speak at South Africa 2010

The 32 teams/nations are in.

We are going to look at them a bit more closely, running up to the official Draw, on Dec. 4. Today, by how they communicate.

Cup teams by languages:

(Note: Includes several countries where a language is rarely a native tongue but has "official" status.)

English: 8 (Australia, Cameroon, England, Ghana, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, United States).

Spanish: 7 (Argentina, Chile, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Spain, Uruguay).

French: 4 (Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, France, Switzerland).

German: 2 (Germany, Switzerland).

Italian: 2 (Italy, Switzerland).

Korean: 2 (North Korea, South Korea).

Portuguese: 2 (Brazil, Portugal).

And one each: Arabic (Algeria), Danish (Denmark), Dutch (Netherlands), Greek (Greece), Japanese (Japan), Serbian (Serbia), Slovakian (Slovakia), Slovenian (Slovenia) ... and several African languages, including Afrikaans, Akan, Bantu, Baule, Berber, Ewe, Dagbani, Gurma, Hausa, Igbo, Malinke, Senoufo, Xhosa, Yoruba, Zulu, to name most of those most commonly spoken.

So, if you're going to the World Cup, English is the best language to know, because it is an official language of South Africa (though spoken as a mother tongue by only 8 percent of the population) ... and because fans from seven other national teams ought to understand you.

If you also know Spanish and French ... now you've covered 19 World Cup countries, and that doesn't even count places such as Denmark, Germany and Switzerland where English is widely spoken, or the United States, where a significant number of people now understands Spanish.

So, with one language, English, you will be able to get along. With three (English, French, Spanish), the odds are good you will be able to communicate on some basic level with just about everyone.
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