Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Talking your language

The BBC has put much more detail on how it intends to spend Foreign Office money in expanding the World Service. There are to be offerings, of varying scale, delivery and ambition, in 11 'new' languages. Here they are, listed by Wiki's estimate of how many people have each as their first tongue.

Punjabi 100m
Korean 76m
Telugu 76m
Marathi 73m
Gujurati 49m
Nigerian Pidgin 30m
Yoruba 28m
Igbo 24m
Afaan Oromo 24m
Amharic 24m
Tigrinya 4m

That's a new market totalling over 500m - and good old BBC Advertising is already on the case.

It's a pleasure to read that there'll also be additional investment in World Service English, "with new programmes, more original journalism, and a broader agenda". It would be interesting to know if this is new money from the Foreign Office or from James Harding's licence-fee pot.

The BBC says this is the biggest expansion since the 1940s, with broadcasting planned for 40 languages including English, by the end of 2017.  Ahem. In 2005 the World Service was broadcasting in 43 languages including English: Albanian, Arabic, Azeri, Bengali, Burmese, Caribbean-English, Cantonese, French for Africa, Hausa, Hindi, Indonesian, Kinyarwanda/Kirundi, Kyrgyz, Macedonian, Mandarin, Nepali, Pashto, Persian, Portuguese for Brazil, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhala, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, and Vietnamese plus Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Kazakh, Polish, Slovak, Slovene, and Thai - the last ten pulled in 2006.

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