Languages and the 2010 World Cup



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OK, so it's an obvious bandwagon to jump on right now, but at least our take on the 2010 FIFA World Cup offers you something slightly different. Just for fun, here are some language-related facts we bet you didn't know about the World Cup...


  • South Africa has 11 official languages. They are: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.

  • English is the fifth most widely-spoken language: the most widely-spoken is Zulu.

  • The 32 teams involved speak 18 languages between them: 6 speak English, 6 speak French and 5 speak Spanish.

  • Out of the world’s top 4 populous countries, neither China, India nor Indonesia qualified. Only the USA did. Consequently TV audiences are expected to be the same as four years ago (26 billion viewers cumulatively throughout the competition).

  • The only participating country that will not be able to watch its team’s progress on TV is North Korea.

  • A South African pharmacy chain is using computers linked to an online translation service to help diagnose international fans’ health and ‘over-indulgence’ problems during the World Cup.

  • The first person that Fabio Capello decided to leave out of his England World Cup squad was… his interpreter. Apparently he is feeling more confident about his English-speaking skills these days.

  • Swiss centre back Philippe Senderos is probably the most prolific linguist playing in the World Cup - he speaks six languages.

  • England midfielder Frank Lampard reportedly has one of the highest IQs in the game and got an A in his Latin GCSE.

Got one to contribute? Send it in, and if we like it (and it's true!), we'll post it here.


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