Monday, July 12, 2010

World Cup Round-Up: Language Stats

Though the final match between Spain and the Netherlands is over and the month long international soccer tournament has come to an end, World Cup spirit is still very much alive here at PLG. In this section, we've collected some interesting language related facts pertinent to the World Cup:

• South Africa, this Cup's host, has 11 official languages, including Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans and English.

• Spain, the World Cup winner, has four official languages: Castellano (Spanish), Euskera, Catal├ín and Gallego. Spanish is spoken nationally while the other three are spoken regionally. During Franco’s regime (1939-1975) the use of regional languages was highly discouraged but have since experienced a strong resurgence.

• Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands (the 2nd place finishers), with Frisian enjoying co-official status in the province of Friesland. Most Dutch citizens also speak English, as it is a mandatory part of secondary education, and many also speak German and/or French.

• Language ties with the Netherlands—Afrikaans, the native language of 13.3 % of South Africa’s population, is a language derived from the Dutch brought over by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century.

• The match between Argentina and Mexico on June 27 was televised in the U.S. on the network Univision and watched by a record-breaking 9.36 million people - making it the most watched Spanish-language program in the United States.

• Pharmacies in South Africa prepared for the arrival of thousands of tourists by setting their computers up to use Babel Fish, Yahoo’s online translation program.

• English proficiency is required for World Cup referees. Brazilian refs were quoted to have studied English swear words prior to June 12’s match between England and the United States (foul language is grounds for a player’s ejection from a game).

• Though England’s out, there’s still something to cheer about: English Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and his family have ties to both teams in the World Cup final. Clegg’s mother is Dutch and his wife, Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, is Spanish. The Deputy Prime minister cheered for the Oranje Elftal (Orange Eleven) while his wife and sons threw their support behind La Roja.

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