List of languages by GDP by exchange rates

The list of languages by GDP by nominal exchange rates is roughly how I would rank the languages in terms of their importance. Mandarin might surpass English in the next thirty years, Russian might surpass Italian and Korean, Vietnamese might surpass Polish, and Spanish and Hindi-Urdu might surpass Japanese and German. Only the top 8 are major languages; those outside the top 13 are minor, and those outside the top 16 are generally not worth learning. Of the classical languages, Latin is probably the one most worth learning to English speakers because of the large shared vocabulary and it being widely used by Western European Medieval intellectuals. Attic Greek, classical Chinese, Sanskrit, and Middle Persian follow.


Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

9 thoughts on “List of languages by GDP by exchange rates”

  1. Why don’t you like Pinyin and Zhuyin? Pinyin is an excellent phonetic transcription system. I haven’t studied with Zhuyin, but am generally familiar with it and I don’t think it’s that bad, although I think Pinyin is better.

    For a native English speaker totally unfamiliar with Chinese, Wade-Giles probably gets them closer to the actual pronunciation than Pinyin. But once Pinyin and basic Mandarin phonetics are learned, Pinyin works well. Of course, once basic Mandarin phonetics are learned, it doesn’t really matter whether you use Pinyin or Wade-Giles, as you map the mouth/tongue positions of the Mandarin sounds with the letters in Pinyin and Wade-Giles.

      1. Taiwan uses Zhuyin for phonetic transcription of Chinese. Wade-Giles is used for rendering place names, proper names in English letters for non Chinese speakers.

        What I meant is that native English speakers without ever having studied Chinese can sort of get what the Wade-Giles “hsing” or “tsai” are supposed to sound like, whereas their Pinyin equivalents “xing” or “cai” are incomprehensible until you study the Pinyin system.

  2. I feel like you may not have learned basic Mandarin phonetics very well yet if you don’t like Pinyin. The best way to learn the phonetics is to learn Pinyin with it.

    1. Explain the difference between ju and zhu, jun and zhun, quan and chuan. Pinyin is almost as arbitrary as English spelling, with less of a reason to be so. Zhuyin is somewhat better, but still not great.

      1. It’s not arbitrary. The “h” in those initial consonant clusters indicate retroflex, meaning the tip of your tongue has to reach back a little.

        For “ju” and “jun”, the “j” is pronounced more or less the same as “j” in English. “Zhu” is pronounced the same as you would “ju” but retroflex. Retroflex is pronounced by moving your tongue tip back. Right above your two front teeth is the alveolar ridge. Put your tongue tip on it, and then move the tip further back and up until your tip is past the ridge and it’s your upper palate. Then with your tongue tip reaching there in a relaxed position, say “ju” – that’s how you pronounce “zhu”. Same goes for “zhun” and “chuan”. Pronounced same as “jun” and “quan”, respectively, but with the retroflex tongue position. Also the case for “shi” – pronounced same as “si” except tongue in retroflex.

        Zhuyin doesn’t indicate these subtleties with a single letter like Pinyin does.

        1. No, what you don’t get is that the finals in ju and zhu are different, as are those in jun and zhun, quan and chuan. Zhuyin makes this clear, pinyin doesn’t make this clear at all.

          1. Yes, ju, jun, quan are derived from the “u” sound with umlauts. So they could have written them with the umlaut u.

            However, unlike “nu” and “lu” with the umlauts, the umlaut sound isn’t emphasized that much in ordinary speech in ju, jun, quan.

  3. Another way to think of the retroflex sound is the American pronunciation of the English word “sure”. When you pronounce “sure”, the tongue tip moves up slightly during the pronunciation. The final tongue tip position, when you linger on the “errr” sound, is where you want your tongue to start when you pronounce the Chinese retroflex sounds like “shi”.

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