Which languages should Deutsche Welle add?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Deutsche Welle, along with most international broadcasters, seems to add languages due to either: 1) general geopolitical extent and strength, or 2) German / European political interest. Every language present there seems to fit with one of these criteria.

For example, large languages such as French, Arabic, Portuguese (Brazilian), Chinese, etc.

Small but geopolitically important languages: Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian - one for each. Also Bulgarian and Macedonian, separately, though these languages are mutually intelligible. If the Balkans had no political strife and all these countries were already in the EU, Deutsche Welle probably would have gone with...maybe Serbian, and that's it. Albanian is there too.

Languages that are not included are small languages, or medium-sized languages that are already well integrated into the EU. That means no Lithuanian, no Czech, no Dutch.

Seems to make sense so far. But there are a few languages that seem to have fallen into the cracks and probably should be added, not so much for the news broadcasts as the excellent German learning resources. Those are:

Italian -- I've mentioned this one before. 70-80 million people, all EU citizens that can come to Germany to work and share a similar culture. Italians or Italian speakers are easy to hire.

Afrikaans -- Afrikaans would at first glance seem to be like Dutch: linguistically related to German, should be easy to learn without having to make the effort to translate any of the German learning resources. Plus South Africans generally speak great English. On the other hand, 1) Germany is not next to South Africa so the language can only be learned at a distance without taking the plane all the way to Europe, and 2) German is simply better learned through Afrikaans than English. There is also no Dutch Deutsche Welle that could be used by an Afrikaans speaker.

Japanese and Korean -- Similar to the Italian example, these two are relatively large, untapped markets. Their English ability is also quite low, so there is little chance of them using the English section of Deutsche Welle to learn German. Any Korean resources can also potentially be used by North Koreans or ethnic Koreans in China, and that should pertain to reason #2, the strictly political one.

If these four were added the only ones that might be advisable that I can think of off the top of my head are Vietnamese and Thai.


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