war in iraq

What is the official language of Iraq?

Survey finds that less than half of all Americans know what the official language of Iraq is

January 30, 2003

NEW YORK, Jan. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- We've fought one war with Iraq and are inundated with media stories about a second. One would think Americans know some pretty basic facts about the country. But surprisingly, in a recent survey only 49 percent of respondents could name Arabic as an official language of Iraq.

In the survey of over 2500 people conducted for Living Language by the NFO WorldGroup, people were asked to choose Iraq's official language from the list of Arabic, Farsi, Iroquois, Armenian and Turkish. From this list only Arabic is an official language of Iraq. Kurdish is also recognized as an official language, although not offered as a choice in this survey. Although 49 percent did choose Arabic, 18.3 percent chose Farsi, 2.2 percent chose Armenian, and 1.3 percent chose Turkish. A very small percentage (0.6%) chose Iroquois, a Native American language. They would have been better off joining the 28.5 percent who simply answered "don't know."

"Most Americans have traditionally known very little about Middle Eastern languages," says Christopher Warnasch, Editorial Director of Living Language. "But that's begun to change, especially since September 11. Americans are curious or concerned about the Middle East, and they are starting to recognize that the best way to know a people is to know their language."

Trustworthy Translations?

When asked if they trust the translations of foreign statements in the American news media, only 5.9% strongly agreed, 39.1% somewhat agreed, and 26.4% were non-committal. Over a quarter of those surveyed (28.7%) did not trust translations in the media. So it's not surprising that most respondents chose Arabic (37%) when asked which language is the most valuable to learn given current world events. Spanish was a close second with 33.9% and Mandarin Chinese, the most spoken native language, was distant third with only 4.4%. Japanese and French rounded out the top five with 3.5% and 2.3%, respectively.

Related: Languages of Iraq

Source: Living Language


war in iraq