What should large corporations do?

Native English speakers may realize one fact all too late, and that fact won't reverse itself. The Chinese and the Brazilians and eventually the Vietnamese and the Thais, and others, are the ones bringing vast amounts of new wealth to be shared at your table. Clearly, you will do much better at that table if they will talk with you.

On this point, Japanese, German, or French companies are much better off than American companies, just because their leading executives are less demanding on the command of English. They are ready to accept an in-between level instead of a close-to-perfect one. They can work with foreign partners who are far from perfect with English. The story of the brain doctor works for them, in their best interest, they get the highest quality treatment for their child.

Most of them have, nonetheless, a special liking for whatever is written in the nicest English. Letters to the employees worldwide, to all the foreign companies, notes or guidances to the sales partners and dealers, or to the suppliers, annual report to the stockholders, are written by ex-students from Oxford or Cambridge, to make sure they are tasteful in appearance, and provide clear evidence of a high level culture. Better English seems to mean a better social status… Completely wrong! All of this should be written in the most simple, but still perfectly correct English. The result would be that 10 times more people would read it immediately, and get the message. While today, in most cases, too many have to wait for a translation which is always too late, if ever available, and cannot be perfectly exact.

The same applies to speeches or videos of the CEO and the other high level executives who, all too often, try to sound English or American.  This is not thinking of the target population. Simpler is better, and has been defined in the Globish books, as well as demonstrated enough and working well.

Software tools can help get the result, where the message is identical, but the wording is simple and understandable by much larger numbers of readers. What seems necessary is to make this an official policy, and announce that the communication tool in this corporation is no longer English but Globish.

The persons who dislike the too-powerful ruling of English as a worldwide language will, on top of that, be delighted with this decision.

Once the decision is made, the savings are huge in terms of time, money, and good will. Bringing all the players in one company to this Globish level is faster, easier, and much less expensive than requiring very high English abilities. Once the employees and the other players are at this Globish level, they understand all that is communicated. With this new attitude, Globish training can be an easy fit, and Globish can start with most English beginners. Most people in business will have 350 very basic words in English, if just from being at school or seeing entertainment in English. This is the starting point we work on.

The position of English as THE worldwide language is changing, and coming to an end, as more and more non-native English speakers are using it far from the Queen’s or Mickey Mouse’s standards.  When they feel they are expected to exhibit too much English, this becomes just as great a problem as when they have too little. Globish -- that level of English that most the world uses -- is limited, but can certainly be enough. It just needs to be organized and defined with limits and conditions, and this is the goal of Globish.

                                                                -- Jean-Paul Nerrière


[1] Jean-Paul Nerriere, Parlez Globish!: Don’t speak English, Eyrolles, 2004.
[2] Jean-Paul Nerriere and David Hon, Globish the World Over, International Globish Institute, 2009. (Japanese version: Toyo Keizai, 2011.)