Earth Day 2014: The Greenest Languages on Earth

April 22, 2014
Earth Day 2014: The Greenest Languages on Earth

The annual Earth Day on 22 April is held to demonstrate and emphasise global support for a wide range of environmental causes and issues. In support of 2014’s Earth Day, here we celebrate the greenest languages – those from the most environmentally friendly countries on the planet. 


In first place is Icelandic, thanks to its country’s strong commitment to green issues. With an excellent policy on the protection of natural resources and extremely low greenhouse gas emissions, Iceland leads the world in its environmental credentials. The language is as fascinating as the country, with an inflectional grammar that sets it apart from most western European languages. 

Swiss German

The second greenest country is Switzerland, due to its innovative combination of a tough stance on pollution and a series of environmental taxes designed to cut down on waste, from water to garbage. Switzerland actually has four national languages – German, French, Italian and Romansh. The majority of the country’s inhabitants (some 64%) are Swiss German speakers, while Romansh speakers (just 0.5% of the population) are in the minority. 

Costa Rican Spanish

An impressive 5% of the world’s entire biodiversity is held within Costa Rica, which places a massive focus on the preservation of its abundant rainforests – over a quarter of the nation’s land is designated as preserved land. This makes Costa Rican Spanish the third greenest language on Earth. Interestingly, Costa Rica also has five indigenous languages, all belonging to the Chibcha language family, as well as four recognised variants of sign language. 


Sweden’s commitment to alternative energy means it has some of the cleanest air on the planet. Indeed, the country’s dedication to reducing carbon emissions has resulted in the entire city of Malmo running on only biofuels. While the written language follows the Swedish ‘subject, verb, object’ convention, it is interesting to note that word order is frequently altered in order to add emphasis to specific words or phrases. 


Thanks to Norway’s extensive use of hydroelectric power and its national commitment to cycling, Norwegian comes in as the world’s fifth greenest language. While there are two officially recognised forms of written Norwegian, no such distinction is made for the spoken language, with Norwegians from different regions simply using their local dialect. 

Are you a green language translator? If so, let us know how you plan to celebrate Earth Day this year by leaving a comment in the box. 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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