Language of Cervantes is worth USD 1bn to Spain
20 March 2007, MADRID - The global status of the language of Cervantes contributed more than USD 1 billion to Spain's economy over the last decade, a study claims.
20 March 2007
MADRID - The global status of the language of Cervantes contributed more than USD 1 billion to Spain's economy over the last decade, a study claims.
The study set out to quantify the economic benefits to the Iberian nation of being the homeland of a tongue shared by 440 million people worldwide.
"The economic value of Spanish: A multinational enterprise," was sponsored by the Telefonica Foundation and directed by Jose Luis Garcia Delgado, professor of applied economics at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid.
Garcia Delgado acknowledges that the figure of USD 1 billion is an estimate, and both he and the study's co-director, Juan Carlos Jimenez, prefer to put emphasis on how the system works.
"Looking for a magic number just to put it out there is fooling ourselves, but perhaps the figure of USD 1 billion will do," Garcia Delgado said, as a basis for measuring the economic and sociological movement that the common language stimulates.
The language, for example, cuts the psychological distance of coming to Europe for an Ecuadorian or a Colombian.
This also encourages migratory flows, and with them flows of Spanish capital, to Latin America where "they have remained despite predictions that they would soon leave," Garcia Delgado said.
"In Europe, we are the country that trades most with Ibero-America. And are its most important market. It must have something to do with the language," he said, underscoring the integrationist value of language.
According to Garcia Delgado, "the language proves itself to be a more important factor that regional integration itself. When we have tested the importance that the language has in comparison with belonging to the EU (European Union), to Mercosur (a South American trade bloc), to ASEAN (the Southeast Asian trade bloc) or to NAFTA, we find that the language is a more important factor in bringing down customs barriers than any integration project."
But one thing is determining the areas for research and another is developing a model that allows the exact value to be calculated.
How can you calculate how much Spain saves because 2.5 million of its immigrants are Latin Americans and share the same language, he asked. Or how do you calculate how much the public health service saves in dealing with patients that speak the same language?
The director of the study recalled that "Colombia has 2 million emigrants, of which a very important number have come to Spain" and he again asked: How many of them would never have emigrated without a common language to make it easier?
"For Colombia to have a shared language means more possibilities of finding jobs and alternative sources of income for its citizens, which in turn becomes a succulent source of foreign currency for the country," Garcia Delgado said.
The project has aroused great interest in the Americas.
"What we have done is let a cat out of the bag," Garcia Delgado said, adding that Colombian authorities "want to sign an agreement to repeat our work in Colombia."
Colombia has a tradition of measuring the impact of various cultural enterprises and has an ongoing project for calculating the value of Spanish for the country and other nations in the region.
Garcia Delgado said that "in countries with a certain tradition, when we mention the possibility of observing the various cultural enterprises through the common lens of our shared Spanish language, they get enthusiastic about the project."
The next time the study will be presented will be in the central Spanish town of Alcala de Henares on 17 April, a week before the presentation of the Cervantes Prize for Literature, the most prestigious literary award in the Spanish-speaking world.
The authors have already had the opportunity of presenting the study in Montevideo, where a project for mapping the Spanish language was also discussed and has now been published. EFE
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news