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Economics and Foreign Language Advice

  1. Jul 29, 2008 #1
    I'm an economics major. I am trying to decide what foreign language I should take next year. I am already fluent in Spanish, and I would like my language choice to be a nice complement to my major.

    I'm not really sure what I want to do in terms of a career. I'm studying abroad in Africa (specifically Cape Town), so I might become interested in political and economic development in that region...but who knows...

    Any suggestions?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 29, 2008 #2
    Dutch? On the grounds that I don't think that's widely taught in U.S. universities, my second suggestion would be German. Third would be French. I think German would be more important to economists in general, and French to economists in Africa.
  4. Jul 29, 2008 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Looking at political&economical developments Russian or Chinese may come handy in future.
  5. Jul 29, 2008 #4
    If you want to learn a local language to use in south africa (cape town is in SA and i was born and raised in johannesburg), I would suggest Xhosa, Zulu or Afrikaans. Those are three of the 11 official languages that we have in SA. English, being one of those too. These 4 are the ones that will get you the furthest in SA. I'm guessing they don't teach any of those languages in the US or have probably not even heard of them, but you might be able to pick one up in your studies.

    I learned dutch (flemish for the politically correct) because I moved to Belgium, but I don't think Dutch is a top prority language to learn, even if you live in the netherlands or belgium. They almost all speak fluent english in any case. Flemish is closely related to afrikaans and will give you a good understanding of the the written word and a little converstaional skill, this might be useful in SA.

    I learned german in my time in germany and find it very useful. Seeing that dutch and english are germanic in origin you start to see some similarities and learning is easier. German is great for engineering, in my experience. There are also quite a few germans in Cape Town (wine farmers and tourists)

    I am learning french, mainly because it is the second language in belgium, and let's be honest, the chicks dig it :wink: I think french will help you more in north africa where it is commonly spoken, a lot of the other african countries speaking portuguese. I seem to remember reading somewhere that french was the language of diplomacy, but that might be an old adage.

    Latin is good for law apparently.

    I agree with Borek, at least on the chinese (mandarin probably) side. China is expanding massively and is the next big economic powerhouse. Also, a large percentage of the world's population is chinese (and they just started letting everyone in China have 2 children, so expect more soon!)

    what about sign language? i always wanted to learn that.
  6. Jul 29, 2008 #5


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    I thought Latin was dead as a working language. I don't see much use for it, except perhaps to impress peers of your mastery with Latin insults.
  7. Jul 29, 2008 #6
    German would be pretty good if you wanted to study economic history.

    And they are the 3rd(I think?) largest economy.

    But if your fluent in spanish, french or italian would be a lot easier for you.
  8. Jul 30, 2008 #7
    True, true.

    Si vis rideo, narro quispiam hilaris. :smile:
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