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Note that the Institute only teaches languages that are required for diplomatic intercourse; hence the grey spots on the map.

You won’t find any courses in Basque (the area straddling the Franco-Spanish border), Breton (in the ‘nose’ of France), Welsh (in, ehm, Wales) or Scots or Irish Gaelic in Arlington.

The latter four are (3) completely unintelligible, as are the Baltic and Slavic families with all the others, but they share a level of difficulty.

According to the FSI, it will take you about 10 months (i.e.

As the chief learning organisation for the State Department, the FSI is where diplomats go to study the languages they will need on foreign postings.

government’s main provider of foreign affairs training, including language courses.

So you’re looking at about a year of full-time study to make yourself understood in either Finnish, Estonian or Hungarian.

There are no 'Category V' languages in Europe, but the blue bits on the map hint at where – and what – they might be: Arabic, spoken, among other places, in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, on the southern edge of this map. While that may be so, Turkish has an easy orthography (in Latin script, unlike Arabic), an uncomplicated case system and extremely regular verb declensions – all factors which distinguish it from Arabic.

Another reason is that being English-only speakers may be a disadvantage even if everybody else speaks English.Getting a good grasp of Arabic would require at least 88 weeks of day in, day out studying. There are no ‘Category III’ languages in Europe, but of course the FSI system does not stop at Europe’s borders.Considering all that effort, why would an English-speaker –even a diplomat – learn another language? True, English will get you pretty far in the world, but not everywhere.One study says that the share of Latin and French words in English is greater than that of Germanic origin (29% each, versus 26%).German, on the other hand, might share a lot of basic vocab with English (1), but according to the FSI it is a ‘Category II’ language (orange) – meaning that it would require around 30 weeks of intense study to master written and spoken proficiency.

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That may seem strange, since English is more closely related to the former than the latter.