The Language(s) of Growth

Turks and Caicos Islands, Ethiopia, Palau, Monaco, Papua New Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Uzbekistan, and Nauru: what do these eight countries have in common? (Map from WorldAtlas)


They hold the top slots in the World Factbook’s Real GDP Growth Rate index, based upon 2015 estimates (except for Turks and Caicos, which is based upon 2007 estimates). Notice that China, India, the United States, Canada, Germany, and Russia are not in this list?

Another common feature among these economies is that most of them, although growing well, are not large. None is larger than $200 billion, and three are less than $1 billion. Nauru’s economy is $158 million, primarily based upon phosphates; Uzbekistan’s is $188 billion, (cotton); Cote d’Ivoire’s is $78 billion (cocoa, coffee, palm oil); Palau’s is $272 million (tourism); Turks and Caicos’ is $672 million (tourism, banking); Papua New Guinea’s is $20.5 billion (minerals); Ethiopia’s is $162 billion (coffee, gold, many others); and Monaco’s is $6.8 billion (tourism, especially gambling, and banking). For comparison, the U.S. ($17.9 trillion) economy is a relative giant.

Bhutan, Rwanda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Djibouti are also listed among the 25 fastest-growing economies, as is China. The U.S. ties for 124th with Hong Kong and El Salvador, among others. Canada, Germany, Russia, and Brazil don’t crack the top 150.

These countries also have diverse primary languages. Turks and Caicos Islands speaks English; Ethiopia speaks Oromo, Amharic, and several others; Palau speaks Palauan; Monaco speaks French; Papua New Guinea speaks Tok Pisin plus English and an estimated 836 indigenous languages; Cote D’Ivoire speaks French and about 60 others; Uzbekistan speaks Uzbek, Russian, and Tajik; and Nauru speaks Nauruan.

Although these countries aren’t among the ones we hear and think about most frequently, It would be a mistake to ignore their economies and their languages. Certainly, English is the major trade language nd French and Russian are also widely used for business, but if we only pay attention to those languages, we miss opportunities to deal with ever-growing groups of people with diverse (and also ever-growing) needs. We would be well advised to take former German chancellor Willy Brandt’s advice: “If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.” 

As language professionals, we need to be aware of the full range of languages and dialects. At Tembua, we are always ready—and excited—to accept new linguistic challenges.

Bob May, Guest Blogger

CTO, Tembua: The Precision Language Solution


About tembua

Tembua: The Precision Language Solution provides comprehensive linguistic services for 100 languages to private industry and government agencies on a global scale. Services include document and website translation and localization; conference and 24/7 telephonic interpretation; glossary development; proofreading, text adaptation, editing, multilingual design and DTP; transcription; technical / custom authoring editing, foreign search engine optimization; translation memory management; subtitling.
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