Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gross National Income by language

Another chapter in our "choosing a language" series. The numbers are sound but approximate for languages that span many countries (including multilingual ones) and regions. Japan was a cinch to look up. How do you account for Hindi or Arabic?

A good companion piece for this might be a list of countries that are the largest trading partners of a particular country or region. I'll leave that for everyone's own homework.

GNI (Gross national income) by language/area/country

Estimates based on World Bank figures for 2007 and other sources (for regions)
in millions of US dollars

English (US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, SAR) $19,000,000

Japanese $4,813,341

German $4,000,000

Chinese (China, Taiwan, HK) $3,740,000

Spanish $3,300,000

French (France, Quebec, Belgium, Suisse Romande) $3,350,000

Italian $2,000,000

Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Mozambique etc.) $1,400,000

Russian (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan) $1,308,000

India $1,069,427

South Korea $955,802

Arabic below $1 trillion

Economic weight of Spanish-speakers in the US estimated at $800 billion (not included).


frenkeld said...

It's interesting that the combined total for 4 "neo-latin" languages is (3,300 + 3,350 + 2,000 + 1,400) = 10.050 billion US$ of GNI, putting it behind English and way ahead of all (other) individual languages on the list, which are all quite different from each other (assuming English and German are more distinct than, say, French and Spanish, which I think they are).

It's even ahead of Japanese + Mandarin.

So, in this "economic" sense, those lazy learners who just want to keep learning Romance languages don't come out looking bad at all.

I wonder what the combined weight of all Germanic economies is (excluding English).

reineke said...

German takes longer than French - for an English speaker. There's nothing lazy, however, about learning 4 Romance languages. The “Germanic” area's GNI is US$ 6 trillion. German and Neo-Latin languages make sense. This group has a combined GNI of some $15 trillion. It approaches English – now and covers a similarly large geographic area.

4 Romance Languages: approximately 35 million km2, 900,000,000 people, $10 trillion GNI

Chinese: 10 million km2, 1.3 billion people, $3.7 trillion GNI

Economically they might reach parity in about 20 years. Assuming continued lethargy on the other side, it’ll be good 30 years until Chinese offers any significant advantage.

frenkeld said...

When you say "continued lethargy", do you mean Latin America remaining a third world place?

reineke said...

I was referring to economic growth rates. Latin America's economy has grown at a 5 percent rate for the past five years. China's economy has been growing at a 10 percent rate for almost 30 years.

Regardless of their growth rate both China and Latin America will have "third world" pockets in 30 years.

frenkeld said...

If you look at the top 10 languages at the How To Learn Any Language forum,

Top 10 Target Languages
% of non native speakers
Language Members
1. English - 65%
2. Spanish - 27%
3. French - 26%
4. German - 20%
5. Japanese - 11%
6. Italian - 9%
7. Russian - 9%
8. Mandarin - 8%
9. Portuguese - 4%
10. Latin - 3%

benevolently admitting Latin as a good old bit of culture to pursue in retirement, the order of the rest of the languages more or less fits my idea of relative entertainment and other value renormalized by difficulty. I'd probably do Portuguese right after Italian, but otherwise, it's not a bad order in which to tackle them.

reineke said...

Blogger profiles by interest

Japan 8,800
Spanish 4,500
French 4,200
Japanese 3,300
Europe 2,900
Italy 2,700
France 2,500
Paris 2,400
China 2,400
India 2,300
German 1,800
Latin 1,700
Mexico 1,500
Germany 1,400
Spain 1,300
Russia 1,300
Chinese 1,100
Italian 1,000
Brazil 807
Greek 696
Arabic 679
Russian 653
Korean 568
Rome 539
Tokyo 527
Madrid 319
Portuguese 301
Hindi 218