Only 10 of 34,000...
A ratio of 1:3,400. Anything measured by that ratio is a stunning comparison to make. But that 10 of 34,000 is precisely the number of fluent Arabic-speakers at the US Department of State dwarfs 'stunning' and it's use as the appropriate adjective.
From Athena at Terrorism Unveiled in The Critical Language Need:
Here's the real kicker:
At the State Department, for instance, only 10 of 34,000 employees are rated fully fluent in Arabic.
I'm guessing this is fluency on a 1-5 scale. Native speakers who maybe spoke Arabic until they enrolled at school in the US would even have a hard time attaining a level 5 fluency, so around a level 4 is well enough to communicate effectively.
Yet still...only ten? No wonder we're having such problems projecting our image (I'm an avid opponent to the argument that we have such a bad public image mostly as a result of our policies; in my view we simply cannot communicate them effectively because we fundamentally misunderstand our audience.)
There are far more than 10 Arabic-speaking nations in the world. That means our own State Department has less than 1 fully fluent Arabic speaker for each of them.
Most would conclude that maybe, just maybe, Athena's onto something here.