Bloomberg's language rankings are a bit rough

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I noticed an article here in Portuguese today saying that Portuguese is the sixth most useful language in business. The rankings were actually published last month but I didn't notice them at the time.

According to them, the most useful languages after English are: Chinese, then French, followed by Arabic, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Italian, Korean, Turkish. Sounds about right, but the method they used seems a bit rough and ready:

To create the list, Bloomberg Rankings identified the 25 languages with the greatest number of native speakers, then narrowed the list to the 11 official languages of G20 countries, excluding those that designated English.

...that's it? It looks like they just took the languages of G20 countries and added up the GDP.

That article also featured the following (not sure if this came from Bloomberg or elsewhere):

French is spoken by 68 million people worldwide and the official language of 27 nations. Arabic, which is spoken by 221 million people, is the official language in 23 nations, according to Bloomberg.

68 million worldwide? Off by over a factor of three, and that's only including French speakers that are literate too. In 2010 French was at about 220 million, and has an estimated growth of 7 million speakers per year.


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