01 September 2011
The Greek empire left us more than their heritage in architecture, mathematics, medicine and philosophy. The great emperors who led the largest territory existing in history have taught us that it doesn’t dominate a nation only by military force. The Greeks knew, and later the Romans, that one of the most effective ways to maintain economic dominance over other groups is through the linguistic and cultural imposition. If this nation learns to speak your language, they will consume your culture.
The lesson of the Greeks was not limited to the Roman Empire. In modern history, the United States performed this task in an exemplary way in the world with the “Big Stick” philosophy, with customs, cars, products, movies and music and references to a population who didn’t bother to play the role of just a consumer market. There was no counterpart, the goal was economic domination and imposition of culture (with a stick in the hand, of course).
Not surprisingly, the current most spoken languages in the world are from the most important economies, showing that the thinking of centuries BC remains the same: China, USA, Spain and Latin America (I have my doubts about that importance here), India, Brazil, the Middle East. The list of “top seven” also has the Bengali, from Bangladesh.
The difference between the Greeks behavior and these countries is that not all of them spread their language and culture to other corners. Brazil is in that list because of its huge territory and for being the fifth largest population in the world. Unlike France, Italy and Germany which have much smaller populations than the countries mentioned, but complete the ranking of countries with the most widely spoken languages in the world, along with Russia and the Arab world.
Portuguese isn’t named an international language, used in diplomatic ceremonies, nor a UN official language, which accepts only Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Anyway, the Portuguese-based communication seems to show some growth, with more than 30 million students worldwide.
Even with this increasing demand for Portuguese teachers, we haven’t learned to be like the Greeks. Indeed, this is one of the shortcomings of Brazil. A more efficient communication plan of Brazil abroad would help bring the culture, custom and products to other markets.
We can easily find Indian, Chinese, Japanese and American in prominent positions in multinational companies. The Indians do that pretty well, especially in the technology area. Perhaps, it is one of the reasons to be increasingly easy to find Indian restaurants in the United States.
We are an economy of respect and we have one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. No doubt the importance of Brazil is increasing at the global level. A more aggressive communication and brand reputation plan for Brazil could be an important tool, as it was for the Greeks and Romans in the past, and has been for American, Russian, Chinese, and Indian…