For many professionals using Business English, this language is purely an efficient means of communication in order to get the job done. This new lingua franca might consequently become known under a different name to ‘English’. Both BELF (Business English Lingua Franca) and ‘Globish’ are terms currently used.
The French former IBM executive Jean-Paul Nerrière coined this version of English ‘Globish’. He observed in the Far East how non-native speakers of English were more able to communicate and hence do business with their Korean or Japanese counterparts than their native English speaking rivals from America and Britain by using this dialect. Globish has a basic ‘utilitarian’ vocabulary of about 1500 words and is devoid of all the complications of English. In the author Robert McCrum’s view, Globish benefits from having broken free from the cultural associations with Britain and the United States. This would obviously make it more attractive to potential speakers in countries where Western life is not always looked upon positively.
Globish therefore evolves in its own way, both grammatically and lexically. Will Globish become the new lingua franca? In the opinion of New Yorker writer, Isaac Chotiner, Globish may just be a worldwide pidgin which does not satisfy everybody’s linguistic needs – what people really want to learn is English. In the same vein, Nicholas Ostler writes that Globish in his opinion will not survive long as it ‘it is not being picked up as a mother tongue’, something which is essential for the long-term survival of a language.
So, what of the future of English as a lingua franca for business? Nicholas Ostler believes that even though English is the lingua franca of business at the current time, the situation will definitely change and English will go into inevitable decline. Why inevitable? In his view, English will follow the same trend as other great lingua franca of the past. Persian dominated Western Asia for centuries but finally lost this position following foreign invasions of peoples speaking other languages and went into permanent decline. The same was true of Latin, which became the lingua franca under the Romans.
Even if these predictions are backed by solid arguments, we clearly do not know what will happen and when – after all, the reign of Latin lasted for more than a thousand years. In the meantime, while we wait for a new dominant culture to appear, there is no denying the requirement for non-native speakers of English to acquire the language of Shakespeare and Dickens. English courses such as Business English or Legal English will allow you to work effectively in an international context.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2011