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January Language Feature:

Is Globish Actually BizEng 101?

(Now: Read about Globish in Globish)

[G] About 100 years ago, a few English-speaking professors decided that English would be the best language for all the world to speak. No surprise, that. Since then, business and technology (and at least two World Wars) were elements that helped establish English as a much-used language. The problem with English now is that it is almost required for doing global business, but many global activities cannot find enough English-speakers. If you are reading this you probably have some education in English and some time in an English-speaking environment. However, in the whole chain of bringing a product to the global market, not every sales person or shipping agent has the same time and opportunity. And yet, the language may be part of many steps in most international processes.

So people learn enough English, not only to talk with English-speakers, but to talk across cultural borders and learn about each other. 2 major questions, however, raise doubts about the current English language environment.
(1) Can the basic English of most workers handle the demands of business situations?
(2) Can you know what English another person knows, and depend on that "middle ground" so that you can be sure of your communication with them?

Even with native English speakers, the answer to question #1 is always "Perhaps." However, the answer to question #2 -- about a "dependable middle ground" -- is where Globish is now taking root. It is a well-defined, basic form of English. However, because it forms a common ground for all people on the globe to be able to talk, it is called Globish. It is important that this form of English should NOT be called any kind of English, so that it does not confuse itself with English culture. There are four times as many people who could now speak Globish as there are native English speakers -- about 1,200,000,000. Yes, that is a large number, but the true number may be even larger now.

-from D.Graddol,English Next, British Council, 2006

All over the world Moroccans are talking with Mexicans, Koreans are e-mailing Syrians, and Germans are giving business proposals to Turks. All of them are trying to use English as a middle-ground language. A never-ending question for persons, and companies, who now use English, is: “How much English is enough?” The answer would probably be: “If it gets the job done, it is enough.” But the next, very business-like question, is much more difficult: “Does using more masterful English always get the job done better?”

The answer to the 2nd question is clearly "no." In fact, many non-native speakers feel that if a native speaker brings too much expertise in English it hurts the basic communication environment. The expert English speaker may use long, involved sentences, with a vocabulary of over 100,000 words and many grammar forms used mainly to provide variety. But that skill does not help communication, or business, with people who do not have a lot of English. In fact, many companies in China like doing business – in English – with companies whose country is NOT English speaking. The fact is that using too much English can hurt the comfort level in a business deal. It takes speakers away from a middle ground, to a place where the English culture is as important to understanding as the words themselves. This extra necessity -- to understand the English-speaking culture as well -- is not useful to the beginning English speaker.

And this is the reason for Globish: it is not English. It is a form of English that a person can master in about 6 months, studying only about an hour per day. This achievement provides the student enough words and enough structure to do most English business effectively, when it is combined with technical words for specialized work. With the name Globish, the desire to communicate comes from the non-English speaking world, and quickly announces that it is a Global way of talking. At the same time, the Globish environment uses simple, correct, and effective English language structures. Globish makes no attempt at general spelling or pronunciation rules because when you memorize its 1500 words, you also memorize spelling and pronunciation of each word. Then, with the changes to a word that are inherent in English, the speaker can have an impressive working vocabulary of 5,000 useful words. It has been estimated that the average native English speaker uses at most 7,500 words in all of his or her daily communication. We can see what we thought was a great distance between people may now be shrinking because of Globish.

Because a number of people have already used some English already, it is reasonably natural for those non-English speakers to learn the Globish form. In fact, if they are using English as a “middle ground” with other non-English speakers, they are probably speaking something very near Globish. Many non-English speakers can probably learn the elements of Globish well in much less than 6 months.

On the other hand, excellent English speakers will need only to learn which 1500 English words are also Globish - the first part of a simple diet. The other part of the Globish diet is to limit "fat" sentences to under 26 words. That automatically reduces the number of “statements inside of statements” in a sentence and makes the meaning of each statement more clear. It also adds one more important element to Globish: its limited vocabulary and short sentences allow the computer to change Globish to other languages quite easily. Using Globish may ensure the best possible machine translation.

With Globish as a dependable environment, the world is very near to having its global language; some would say we are there already. The piece you have just read is written totally in Globish, using a simple set of rules to get the job done. Articles written this way may often have a [G] before them to let you know it is created in a dependable Globish. If you would like to see what English words you like to use are also in Globish take a look at the 1,500 words, right now.

Or see how the Mark Antony speech in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar would be said with all Globish words. (You may be surprised.)

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