Archive for the ‘languages’ Category

January 11th, 2010 dotted line

Learning a language, for Netflix

Say I live in the US, and that physical access to other languages and cultures happens to be difficult. If I had time to learn a new language, which makes the most sense?

Here’s one way to answer that question. Many people start learning a language because of films they like, and looking at Netflix‘s foreign language film catalog, the top 6 languages by number of page listings are:

Cantonese 23
Mandarin 25
Japanese 29
French 34
Spanish 43
Hindi 61

So if Netflix was my primary source for movies, I should choose Hindi to:

  • maximize the amount of content which will help me learn my new language,
  • increase my enjoyment of this content (matters of taste aside).

My knowledge of Indian cinema is limited, so I was surprised by this; I had expected one of the other five languages on the list to come out on top.

A more interesting list is top languages ordered by amount of all cultural exports (film, TV, music, comics, etc.) based on that language. In that list, I would expect Korean to figure more highly.