WASHINGTON – A study released Thursday in Washington emphasizes the potential for the growth of Spanish in countries like the United States and Brazil, as well as the economic value that translates, for example, into higher salaries for bilingual Hispanics in the United States.
Findings of “The Economic Value of Spanish” project, fostered by the foundation endowed by Spanish communications giant Telefonica, were released at the headquarters of the Inter-American Development Bank for the publication of the last study in the series on emigration and language.
The analysis emphasizes, among other things, that the salaries are bilingual Hispanics in the United States are 2.7 percent – on average – higher than those for Hispanics who only speak English.
Project director Jose Luis Garcia Delgado, a professor of Applied Economics at Madrid’s Universidad Complutense, on Thursday emphasized that the flow of Latin American immigrants to Spain “is almost three times higher than it would be if we didn’t share the language.”
He noted that about 16 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product can be attributed to the language.
“The challenge of the future of Spanish isn’t based just on the number of its speakers but also on its capacity to spread and impose itself as a language of international use for economic and scientific interchanges,” the professor said.
He insisted that Spanish can aspire to become the world’s second “lingua franca” after English.
Present for Thursday’s event were IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno, the head of the Telefonica Foundation, Javier Nadal, and the president of Telefonica Internacional in the United States, Iñaki Urdangarin, husband of Spain’s Princess Cristina.
Moreno said that Spanish has acquired an “important position” in the world with more than 300 million Spanish-speakers to whom must be added those who speak it as a second language.
He also emphasized the growing importance of Spanish and Hispanics in the United States, whose influence – he said – “is transferring into all aspects of life” in the country.
Nadal noted that Spanish is the language of the third-largest number of Internet users.
He also recalled that it is the language that has the largest percentage of Web surfers who participate in social networks and added that there is still potential for Internet growth in Spain, as well as in the United States and Latin America.
In general terms, he said that “Spanish is a language of expansion” with two areas of powerful growth: Brazil – where the official language is Portuguese – and the United States.
He also said, in conclusion, that a “great part of the economic value of Spanish will depend on the prestige it has in the United States” and he added that that is related to important content being available in Spanish.
“I think we have a great future but also there’s work to be done,” he said.
Meanwhile, Urdangarin spoke about the international profile of Telefonica, a firm with 257,000 employees in 25 countries.
“If anyone understands well the possibilities of communication and the possibilities offered by a language, without doubt that is Telefonica,” he said.
The results of the investigation of Spanish sponsored by Telefonica will be made known in a series of 14 working documents, 13 of which have already been published, as well as in five books that have already come out. EFE