Dictionary.com

Should business be English-only?

business english, renault, harvard business reviewThe Harvard Business Review recently reported that multinational corporations are encouraging—or mandating—their employees to speak English. Samsung, Airbus, Microsoft in Beijing and many others now enforce English as the language of their business. Even corporations that are based in foreign countries, like Renault in France and Rakuten in Japan, are mandating English communication for their employees. Back in 2010, Rakuten (Japan’s largest online retailer) became an English-only company, encouraging their employees to conduct all business in English: e-mails, memos, and verbal communication.

In 1997, the International Civil Aviation Organization (which regulates all international air travel) reaffirmed the importance of English as the in-air language of communication. To reduce communication problems, all pilots who fly internationally must speak English. So when a plane is flying from Paris to Madrid, the pilots must speak English. In the air, communication is a matter of safety, and in offices, it’s a matter of efficiency.

However in other realms, the standard language of communication has shifted away from English. As we discussed last year, the official language of space is now Russian. (Find out more here.)

This all begs the question: if people communicate better in their native tongue, are you doing them a disservice by forcing them to use English? Will employees be less creative or innovative if they cannot talk or write in their native language?

Do you think that businesses should be English-only?

113 Comments

  1. Druss -  February 7, 2014 - 1:31 am

    english is going the main language for business and young people because is easier to learn. English is not a language as spanish or french is a broken language usefull for globalization

    Reply
  2. Ghislaine -  August 12, 2012 - 1:52 pm

    Why not revert to latin, the former lingua franca.

    Reply
    • someone -  May 21, 2014 - 11:39 am

      cause latin is dead

      Reply
  3. vish -  June 17, 2012 - 8:16 am

    this has been a question which i frequently asked myself that whether i should improve my skills in english or not and finally i have decided to learn english more seriously so as to build a good carrier..

    Reply
  4. Rafael -  June 3, 2012 - 7:41 am

    I don’t see any problem with English being the business language…most things on the internet are in English and English is, without a shadow of doubt, the most spoken second language by most people. It’s not that people should forget their native language, however, with globalization and all stuff going on people need to communicate, if I get transfered to another country for instance it could take me months or even years to learn the language but if everyone speaks English that won’t be a problem. By the way I live in Brazil, speak Portuguese but my mom’s from Canada and I grew up speaking both English and Portuguese and, despite living in Brazil, I use English most of the time….watching movies, tv shows, useing the computer and I don’t think I’m turning my back to my Portuguese, it’s just that English is more, let’s put it like this, functional.

    Reply
  5. Gabriel .L -  June 3, 2012 - 5:29 am

    ~:) English is very common ’cause many people say it~ :)

    Reply
  6. Emma Taylor McJoan -  May 26, 2012 - 8:24 pm

    Be happy guys! Happiness makes your day. Not depression.

    Reply
  7. Kiara -  May 25, 2012 - 11:34 am

    English is a very common language nowadays…….but still,many parts of the world don’t have english as a language….so its not such a good idea…

    Reply
  8. April -  May 25, 2012 - 10:57 am

    I believe that the world needs to get on the same page of things. If we could all communicate without having to worry about translating (and honestly some languages are much more precise in certain areas than others) then the world would be a better place.

    Anyone who has had to be on the phone with tech support for a product made by a company that has their tech support in a country where English is not the first language spoken will know the horrible experience of trying to understand a person who claims their name is some common English name but cannot speak clearly in English due to their thick accent. If English were universal, would that really be a problem anymore?

    I grew up in a neighborhood where there were Hmong, Laotian, Vietmanese, Cambodian, Hispanic, and others. The school I went to had to print out parent notices/permission forms, etc in at least six languages and had to have translators available whenever parents came to the school. The teachers also had to put more time into teaching the students that weren’t fluent in English and they wouldn’t accept teacher aides that didn’t have at least one extra language…

    Reply
  9. Emma Taylor McJoan -  May 24, 2012 - 4:43 pm

    Hahaahhaahha

    Reply
  10. Wy -  May 24, 2012 - 8:43 am

    You mention that in France Renault has made English the official language.

    This is not the case — it is true that it is strongly encouraged but France has a very clear law regarding language at work: if any information relevant to your job is passed in anything but French you are not supposed to take it into account. This cannot be used against you and this is a point which is very, very closely looked after by the work unions.

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  11. dee -  May 24, 2012 - 3:37 am

    No, businesses shouldn’t be English only,but must be a MOST to all member of staffs to be able to speak in English;reason been that if any external person should visit the organization , communication would be very very easy.
    Aside that,English is an international language that recognized and well accepted by many, if not all.
    communication without feedback, is not a good communication.
    think about it.

    Reply
  12. Eric -  May 23, 2012 - 9:51 pm

    I think the language in which business is conducted should be determined by two factors. The first factor being of course where the company is located, or from where it gets the majority of its employees. The second is that said company should probably take into account the language of its target consumer – whether it’s English, French, Spanish, etc. This is largely what’s done now, and I see no reason to change it.

    I live and work in Los Angeles, CA, and in my office we speak only Spanish. I learned Spanish as a second language, but it’s absolutely crucial when dealing with our clientele. I go hours and hours without speaking, writing, or even thinking in English, and that is determined by the area in which I work.

    Reply
  13. NikiGurl -  May 23, 2012 - 1:32 pm

    I didn’t read the whole article but I’m really upset. It’s like….like predjudice, right? Saying only by an attribute that you most often can’t control, can you get a job or go into a college. Is anyone else as pissed as me… maybe it’s my anger issues…

    Reply
  14. Janet Leah Schinco -  May 22, 2012 - 11:52 pm

    One word, NO!

    Reply
  15. Rustgold -  May 22, 2012 - 6:47 am

    Gene Fellner on May 21, 2012 at 7:50 am
    “This is not true.Chinese is far more efficient than English. It has no inflections: number, tense, gender, etc. Its grammar and syntax are simpler and more straightforward.”

    English has little or no tense or silly genders. And other points aren’t entirely accurate. Chinese also has up to four completely different meanings depending on how you stress a word, and for that reason Chinese fails. You also have to learn a massive number of different letters, so you have a second fail.

    Ok, Chinese isn’t as difficult or bad as say Arabic, however it’s not the enlightened perfect language PC types make out.

    English has good points, and not so good points, but it’s essentially the international language, which makes it a better choice then say (lovely sounding) Danish.

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  16. DarkReapersGrim -  May 22, 2012 - 1:36 am

    That’s horrible news for this country. It provides Americans with yet another excuse to forego/forgo learning a foreign language. It’s bad enough we have a significant xenophobic population who are both uncultured and jejune, now they have little incentive to step outside of their “we’re number one!” delusion.

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  17. Jose -  May 21, 2012 - 11:13 pm

    As an English teacher I see the everyday struggles of people who see in English an obstacle for their professional development. I think that instead of thinking of English as symbol of foreign cultures and putting a face to it, it must be regarded as a tool.
    Yes, perhaps for some people it is going to be easier than for others but in the long run English is very likely to prevail as lingua franca for its other competitors have failed (even a strong one like Esperanto) and that is something we have to come to terms with. Personally I like English, it is my second language and it always makes me feel a little sad when someone comes into my classroom and tells me “I hate English”. I can see right though this person that he or she has had a rather unfortunate bump into the language with a resourceless teacher.I think the what we should ask is whether enough English teachers are being trained properly to keep up with the demand of English lessons at a higher level.
    To summarize , yes I think businesses should be conducted in English not to favor this or that culture, but for practical reasons.
    Thanks dictionary.com for being such a valuable help for my students and myself.

    Reply
  18. mary torres :)2 gud 4 u :) -  May 21, 2012 - 4:06 pm

    @dave heeyyy wats goood ?

    Reply
  19. Trevor -  May 21, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    Just saying, someone way earlier said English is the official language of the USA, which is not true! The US has no official language. I think people should be able to learn English if they want, but they shouldn’t be required to.

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  20. Esbee -  May 21, 2012 - 1:53 pm

    The main purpose of every business is to provide product or service to a segment of people. The use of language should be determined by what makes sense for the segment being catered to. ‘One size fits all’ will not hold ground in this case…

    Reply
  21. Joshua -  May 21, 2012 - 12:51 pm

    English sounds like a robot. Why not pick a language that is smooth and intelligent. Why are companies forcing the world to one language anyways? Sounds like Nazism. Hopefully someone stands up for these poor unfortunate souls.

    Reply
  22. sponsell -  May 21, 2012 - 12:40 pm

    To force non-English people to use English for the business purpose is just as stupid as any type of racism.

    Will any of us feel comfortable to switch to Chinese once they dominate the world’s economy?

    Reply
  23. Ed -  May 21, 2012 - 10:54 am

    I think it’s inevitable that we will speak one language on this planet. Right now English seems to be working out for many reasons that have been discussed on this blog. Have any of you watched TED.com? All English, even when the forum is in a non-English country.

    So back to my first comment, speaking one language, is this a good thing? I think that the pros outweigh the cons.

    Reply
  24. Lee10 -  May 21, 2012 - 9:10 am

    Answer to: J on May 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm.
    Well J, at least those people whom you do not understand at the first time they speak are working on jobs which you with your fluent english would never even dare to work at. So, stead of being rude to them you should with pacience try to help them speak your language “English”, be nice to them, try to help them, teach them, even one word would help. That way they would be interested and encouraged to learn English.

    About the article on the dictionary.com site, yes I believe everyone should learn English in order to have better effiency at their jobs, but people whom doesnt know the language should not be punished but encouraged!

    Reply
  25. Barista Uno -  May 21, 2012 - 8:34 am

    The business world should promote multilinguism. How can you set aside Spanish, French or even Chinese when these are widely spoken? The exclusivistic policy on English for business won’t address the social and cultural differences that need to be taken into account in the conduct of business in the international arena.

    Reply
  26. Gus -  May 21, 2012 - 8:28 am

    English only

    Reply
  27. John -  May 21, 2012 - 8:26 am

    Business in America should be in English only. When business people are forced to converse in other languages, through interpreters for example, it bogs down the flow of transactions and communication tremendously. It also creates great misunderstanding between people which leads to conflict, and frustration. I have experienced this first hand for years.

    Reply
  28. Peter -  May 21, 2012 - 7:57 am

    Sorry for posting this here, but.. more articles please :O For I consider them a grace .. an educator’s paradise indeed. :)

    Reply
  29. Gene Fellner -  May 21, 2012 - 7:50 am

    GalacticPresidentSuperstarMcAwesomeVille wrote: “English is by FAR the most practical language in the world. Sure, other languages may be more beautiful, expressive or sophisticated, but in terms of efficacy/efficiency it’s English all the way.”

    This is not true.Chinese is far more efficient than English. It has no inflections: number, tense, gender, etc. Its grammar and syntax are simpler and more straightforward.

    Its words are more compact so it takes fewer syllables to express an idea. As a result the language is spoken more slowly, making it easier to understand, especially for foreigners.

    Once the spread of Mandarin is complete, the old logograms (which allow speakers of all the languages we incorrectly lump together as “Chinese” to understand each other) can be discarded and they will be able to phase in the phonetic writing system which has already been developed. When that happens, watch out, world!

    Reply
  30. Cherry -  May 21, 2012 - 7:25 am

    I would just like to comment that I do not think the language being spoken across the world should even be called English. Language evolves quickly, and the “English” vocabulary, spelling and grammar used in different parts of the world that I deal with for business are often markedly different from that which we use in my home country of England. I am not saying this is a bad thing – but maybe we should have a different name for it?

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  31. Danielle -  May 21, 2012 - 7:05 am

    I work in an international office. The nationalities of my direct colleagues are: Italian, Dutch, Greek, American, Spanish and Turkish. It’s wonderful that we can communicate through one language: English. The differences in accents and expressions is something we have grown to understand and love about each other.

    Reply
  32. Frog and Rosbif -  May 21, 2012 - 6:37 am

    Having worked in industry in France for over 20 years, I have constantly been faced with this dilemma. The demand to use on English as a business language by persons who are not at ease in this language, is leading to very poor quality English being spoken and written. So much so that important information is being distorted, misunderstood and totally misinterpreted. Even worse, some non English mother tongue people are convinced that they can speak and write good quality, understanble English (some can, but most can’t)! I would personally prefer that people express themselves in their own language -the ideas flow much better and are better communicated – and leave the linguistics to the specialists (translators and interpreters). It is PAINFUL AND FRUSTRATING to listen and read poor quality, incomprehensible English. All would optimise their time in what there good at and not at trying to communicate in a language which is not theirs and in which they are not at ease.

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  33. Beth Ortuño -  May 21, 2012 - 5:08 am

    The ability to answer a customer’s email in THEIR native language, or even just to add a few salutory words in their native language to a message otherwise in English, is a real business advantage.

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  34. Beth Ortuño -  May 21, 2012 - 5:05 am

    Kerri, you should go with whichever language will be easiest for you to support outside of school. Do you have an extensive Chinatown where you live, or are you interested in a family vacation to see pyramids in Mexico? For real fluency and ease in actually using the language later in life, the child will have to use it outside of school at least sometimes. Check out spanglishbaby.com for more tips.
    As far as English in the workplace, I can offer the observation that our company is composed of more bilinguals than monolinguals, and we tend to stick with English for written correspondence, especially if it could potentially at any point be needed by someone in the company who wouldn’t understand German, Russian, etc. English is also the language that will be used when we are all in a meeting. Verbally between individuals, however, the ability to chit-chat easily in the native language is a valuable personal connection between coworkers and, very significantly, our customers. We would never give that up. An English-only mandate would be crazy. I would bet money that most other businesses in Houston and certainly in the logistics industry feel the same.

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  35. Denis Gueret -  May 21, 2012 - 4:11 am

    What is spoken today in multinational boardrooms or sometimes in the shop or at the office is not English. And never will be.

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  36. Sophon Seab -  May 21, 2012 - 2:21 am

    Well, It is important to contact and do business by Speaking English, It has spoken globally.

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  37. Nick -  May 21, 2012 - 12:43 am

    A homogenized world where everyone must speak English and diversity is slowly but inevitably wiped out? To be honest that sounds incredibly depressing and I hope that not all companies support this discriminatory policy.

    Think about why so much of the world speaks English today? Either their ancestors were servants of the British colonial empires or they were colonized by the British Empire.

    Colonialism most of the time followed an incredibly racist policy of civilizing the ‘natives’ by spreading western European values and culture to them since their own cultures were seen as inferior.

    Does this enforcing of English language not resonate with such assumptions of superiority?

    It seems neo-colonialism is alive and well.

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  38. Rita Rangnekar -  May 20, 2012 - 11:37 pm

    While ‘good’ English is definitely desirable in the global business context, we cannot ignore the reality that for business transactions to be effective, it is important to communicate with business partners, associates and clients in a language that they connect with, with all the subtle nuances of its lingo or dialect .

    In India, it is common to hear regional business communities converse in their regional languages. If we ask them to speak in English, they may not speak very fluently. Does that make them lesser businessmen?

    The standard language for business is shifting in many countries, because it is a local business requirement.

    Having said that, English is a beautiful language if used well. It gives you an edge over everyone else. Language development happens in the very early stages of life. Therefore, the onus lies on schools to employ good English teachers at the primary and secondary level.

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  39. michael -  May 20, 2012 - 10:04 pm

    the purpose of communication is to understand and to be understood. Language is one tool to do this. If you use English language only for the sake of complying with a company’s policy and procedures for its global competency, just make sure that you are well understood, especially by your clients outside the organization. Language or other forms of communication can vary depending on the level of understanding of parties involved.

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  40. Rustgold -  May 20, 2012 - 7:15 pm

    Before everybody goes on a rant (opps sorry too late), it’s important to point out that every single one of these companies are international traders.

    Microsoft = International
    Renault = International
    Airlines = International

    Can you imagine a pilot saying “Ga naar de eerste hulp positie, zijn we op het punt om een noodlanding te hebben.”

    Sorry, pardon. Opps sorry, you didn’t know what he said, you’re dead. I’d bet you would have like for him to have spoken English then.

    There’s real reasons for internationally operations to speak English, and this blog as nothing but saber-mongering against the ‘evil’ English language. Bad blog, badly written.

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  41. Martin -  May 20, 2012 - 6:49 pm

    Businesses can do as they wish. For most professionals in countries other than America, English will be one of 2 or 3 languages they speak. Americans are the problem (for themselves)–they should have to learn at least 2 languages.

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  42. Hugh -  May 20, 2012 - 5:57 pm

    I think it’s better we use English in international travels. Reading this article made me pretty happy, actually. I do enjoy other languages, learning about them, and interpreting them, but when it comes right down to it, I do believe English is one of the best languages to learn.

    Think about it; we have neutral subjects, minimal and recurring verb conjugation, no adjective formatting, only 26 characters, 2 of which (x and z) we rarely use, and simple sentences are as easy as a subject, a verb, and an occasional object. If people in other countries that are learning English find it difficult, I suppose the two things that could hold them back are pronunciation and vocabulary itself.

    Then, of course, when they try to venture further into the language, they get a bunch of unnecessary grammatical rules shoved in their face (subjective and objective forms, the many ways to link sentences, phrases and clauses, et cetera). Other languages reverse this by providing a difficult beginning, but having very simple grammar (an example would be French, where a comma can replace a semicolon or make pronouns subjective in pluralized subjects, but it’s very difficult to memorize all the different conjugations for the hundreds of “verbs irréguliers”).

    Russian is very similar to English in its originating simplicity. I looked at it a while ago, and in the first paragraph they said that it’s even simpler than English. No conjugation at all, and almost no commas (e.g. “pass salt please”). It’d be another great “global (or, if it’s going to be the space language, multiglobal) communications language”.

    Therefore, I believe teaching students everywhere to learn English and/or Russian is a step in the right direction. I don’t think it’s really robbing them of their culture to make them speak one language for their work and another at home (which many people do nowadays anyway, considering how interconnected the world is). It’s really for simplicity, safety, and efficiency.

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  43. Eric Wardowski -  May 20, 2012 - 5:04 pm

    English is a pidgin language – a language developed over time from traders and merchants to be able to communicate with many cultures and countries. I say we keep English as the main language of international exchange.

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  44. Peter -  May 20, 2012 - 4:57 pm

    Woah @Dave: Believe it or not,I used the name “Dave” in my previous IGCSE English test’s (as a second language) letter so perhaps our meeting was destined!
    Hail friend!

    Reply
  45. Andrés -  May 20, 2012 - 4:06 pm

    International business in English? A Brazilian entrepreneur making business in Chile talking in English? A French importer buying in China may be. A Japanese guy selling in Korea, I don’t think so. We NEED a COMMON LANGUEGE, but just when we need it.

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  46. Tobias Mook -  May 20, 2012 - 3:19 pm

    English should not be forced upon all employees. I can understand upper management and international sales, but English as a whole is a difficult and irregular, thus highly inefficient language.

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  47. Silvana -  May 20, 2012 - 12:59 pm

    First time I have to say something. In here the least. ENGLISH as a second language. In the air.. any for safety! Includes Sign!
    At buss/ office.. in that case Chinese? for key terms:>? English key terms and knowledge is an asset, should not b a must. Proficiency in several is an asset!:> Brainy people have a hard time seing opinions… logical thinking…. open up to several languages….avoid Mistakes! Grand mistakes… English anyway is a borrowed language:>. GUESS it>:

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  48. Smoki -  May 20, 2012 - 12:38 pm

    International business around the globe can get by without a common language for communication but it will be sloppy at best. The reason ICAO went to English is because English is at least a second language in those countries where English is not the native tongue. Besides, they needed a standard language to ensure safety of flight, i.e. no misunderstandings and no time to engage an interpreter who might get it wrong anyway. It’s politically correct to say you want everyone to be able to speak their native tongue in international business transactions, etc. just as its politically correct to say you don’t discriminate but its phony.

    The simple truth is we discriminate from the time we awaken until we fall asleep. It’s called being human. Polls taken these days asking the hard social issue questions typically are unreliable because people have been programmed by the media, etc. to say that which is politically correct to pollsters for fear of being labeled racists or homophobes, etc. while reserving unto themselves what they truly think or believe which shows up in secret balloting contrary to polling data including exit polling.

    If an international company’s management deems it better for the company to speak a common language, be it English which it generally is, then fine, that’s as it should be. Their first and primary concern is the bottom line, not offending personal sensitivities which has been carried to such an extreme these days its ridiculous. The words “I apologize” or “I hope I’ve not offended anyone” have become so common its almost laughable reducing them to essentially meaningless filler words.

    As far as Russian being the language of space, that’s only because the Russians are the predominate occupiers and transporters to/from the ISS since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011. You can be sure that any communication to/from U.S. spacecraft tracking stations and mission control centers like NASA Houston will still be in English.

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  49. Irene -  May 20, 2012 - 10:36 am

    No. I hate how English is assimilating cultures and diversity. If you’re in Japan, the majority of individuals speak Japanese, so speak to them in Japanese; not this English nonsense. Same with France, etc.

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  50. John Doe -  May 20, 2012 - 9:42 am

    Addendum: In most countries, English is already taught at an early age as a second language.

    Logically, since English incorporates many other languages [Latin, German, Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese and many other languages provide many of our English words.] it becomes a logical choice as a common business language.

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  51. John Doe -  May 20, 2012 - 9:25 am

    After reading the comments, I think many are confusing “using English-only at work” with “must give up their native language”.

    Latin, at one time, was the language of diplomacy between nations. Later, French was the “lingua franca” [Latin for French Language]. As the United States became a dominant superpower, English became the language of commerce and diplomacy.

    This was a practical evolution, because in order to do business with the U.S. one needed to speak their language. It had nothing to do with suppressing other languages. The article is referring to American corporations requiring offices which NEED TO COMMUNICATE WITH HOME OFFICE in the U.S. to use the corporate language of English, no matter where that office is located.

    Conversely, if I go to China to work for a Chinese company, then I should be required to learn Chinese. After all, it is the corporate language of that company. I would not be required to give up my native English language, merely learn the language of my employer… or find another employer.

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  52. John B -  May 20, 2012 - 4:58 am

    My unemployed imagination is picturing a maker of poison darts and blow guns in the Amazon selling his wares to a lost Pigmy tribe in sub Saharan Africa. “Oy, Sven, ve come all dis way in our new canoe and deez backwards peoples don even speak our language. Yumpen Yimminey!”

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  53. ehtisham -  May 20, 2012 - 1:39 am

    Well, I would like to comment on it that English is mandatory for making things easy for your business. But at the same time you should never forget the importance of your mother tongue as it will help you in giving an accurate feedback to management team, when working for the company. LIke you should have a good grip on english for external and as much as internal communication but internally your own language may be more influential .

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  54. neil660 -  May 20, 2012 - 12:53 am

    Sherry Rosebud, you complain of Shakespeare’s English, yet you spell “bastardised” with a z (Ameirican spelling), you use “Globish” which is obviously not a mainstream word, and you talk about a “kanguage”. You’re a translator? Really?

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  55. alice -  May 19, 2012 - 9:38 pm

    English should be the only language spoken by businesses. Those that dont know it should learn it. This should be mandatory not optional.

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  56. klem39 -  May 19, 2012 - 9:34 pm

    As an English man having traveled in many countries, I always found people who understand English. Ok, I had to speak a bit louder but they understood eventually. Like what I do

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  57. Tim Kramar -  May 19, 2012 - 7:46 pm

    I can understand them going to English in Japan and some other Asian countries. Especially those that deal extensively with English speaking countries. But I say that because of the large variety of kanji that they would have to use wouldn’t be very effectively handled on a computer. Maybe if they transliterated their language–wakarimas ka–it would work, but not in kanji.

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  58. Pisces -  May 19, 2012 - 6:07 pm

    Though English is my first (and so far only language) I think it is not only rude, but unbelievably arrogant to demand everyone speaks the same language. I now live in a country where English is not the first language and I am having to learn other languages. That is how it should be. Of course creativity and good communication will fly out the window if people are struggling just to find the words to get their message across (but perhaps that’s the real point).

    Poorly spoken or written English by someone who doesn’t have a great grasp of the language is not helpful, not efficient and not safe.

    Ask anyone who has had to suffer the telemarketing, call centre and customer service of India that has pervaded the world how inefficient and highly frustrating it really is.

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  59. Dominic -  May 19, 2012 - 5:14 pm

    English is common and used in majority of areas. I find this language to be smooth and classic than any other language in comparison, it would be very suitable for businesses being English-only.

    If Employees are fluent in English, I don’t see it affecting their creativity or innovative personae when speaking in non-native language.

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  60. Connie -  May 19, 2012 - 3:31 pm

    ABSOLUTELY! English is the language of commodity. Who would challenge that fact?

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  61. Max -  May 19, 2012 - 3:06 pm

    It’s not right to always say English is the official language. I believe companies should work together to determine the best way to communicate in a given environment. I also think “BANNING” communication in another language is childish and never really works well. Sometimes, two people are more comfortable in another language. I think the American idea of the USA being the center of the universe is flawed and everyone should be learning at least 2 other languages, never presuming that the world should always speak English. Common communication is needed but companies should take care not to frustrate their own employees by trying to control too much!

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  62. Nitpi Ker -  May 19, 2012 - 2:54 pm

    I beg you to question your use of “begs the question”.

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  63. Robert J.Haas -  May 19, 2012 - 2:21 pm

    After owning and managing a imported Auto Repair facility near Washington D.C. American English is the only way to communicate most problems to resolution with the written word.

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  64. TETO -  May 19, 2012 - 2:15 pm

    “ENGLISH ONLY” STARTED BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE THE MONEY WAS. IT HAS BECOME SO WIDE SPREAD THAT IT FOLLOWS SUIT THAT IT SHOULD STAY THAT WAY.
    AM I JUST MAKING IT EASY ON MYSELF? QUIEN SABE?

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  65. Nick Petranek -  May 19, 2012 - 2:04 pm

    The reason why program is in all capital letters is because my phone was being stupid.

    Reply
  66. Nick Petranek -  May 19, 2012 - 2:03 pm

    Because the English language is constantly spreading to other parts of the world by shipping jobs over seas, it would be very beneficial to have all international companies and all people who are required to travel for job related functions to speak English. However, if a company doesn’t transport goods to other countries, that company should not be required to speak English. That company should feel free to speak their native language. When it comes to people receiving promotions and such that they now need to learn English, there is always the Rosetta Stone Language Learning Computer PROGRAM.

    Reply
  67. Felix -  May 19, 2012 - 1:50 pm

    English is clearly now the international language, but I don’t think it’s necessary for corporations to require their employees to speak English only. Non native English speakers have different understandings of the language, and not all can use it as leisurely and efficiently as their native languages.

    Reply
  68. Camilo de Lélis Lima de Souza -  May 19, 2012 - 1:27 pm

    Certainly not. English as a second language is acceptable in any area, as Latin once used to be. But this kind of imposition as to be the first language of any realm, besides international air travel, is simply ridiculous. In fact, it is a matter of economic power!

    Reply
  69. Shrapnel -  May 19, 2012 - 12:38 pm

    I think forcing businesses to be English-only does make it easier to communicate, but it also phases out a completely vital part of business – culture. By forcing partners to speak English, they are actually turning these companies towards North America and out of their native countries. I don’t believe this is fair if they want to have something to call their own and to be proud of. At the same time, I think it’s important for everyone to understand each other. It’s a controversial topic in all senses.

    Reply
  70. Sigh -  May 19, 2012 - 12:26 pm

    “Beg the question” does NOT mean to RAISE the question, as the author of this article has used it. BEGGING THE QUESTION is about using the main idea of a sentence to prove that same point–a little like using the word to define the word.

    Reply
  71. Lefty -  May 19, 2012 - 11:29 am

    I am required to speak Spanish at my job since I conducted interviews in English and Spanish! So it kinda hard to agree or disagree since I do get paid more to provide this service. My first language was Spanish I picked up English in the 3rd grade had a hard time but it was worth it. I was raised in a town called Eagle Pass Tx that is a border town and mainly everyone there speaks Spanish!

    Reply
  72. Cristina -  May 19, 2012 - 10:45 am

    English is an incredibly rough language to learn. Many phonetic, spelling and grammar rules are constantly broken. I do think the world needs a uniting language, but the key is using something easier.

    For example, both Spanish and Japanese only have five vowels. In English, an “A” can have various pronunciations where a slight pitch can turn one word into another.

    Reply
  73. Mackenzie -  May 19, 2012 - 9:53 am

    ok peter. LOL

    Reply
  74. peyman -  May 19, 2012 - 8:37 am

    Oh English , what crimes are committed in thy name.

    Reply
  75. BUSINESSENGLISH | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  May 19, 2012 - 8:29 am

    [...] ‘Business English’ separates business from the pleasure — Of the diversity of local color, — We’ll hopefully keep as long as we are able. — An enormous global economy shouldn’t effect the local corner store. — The musical arrangements gots already plexiglass — where the neighborhood be unstable –  and there need be none before. — (Imagine growing up and speaking to someone through plexiglass for a comic book or Coke brothers.) — Interpretative translation confuses things enough. — Like searching for your mothers. — The ‘Cyclops’ on the big steel pole be tracking all the stuff. — How much is enough? — Communication and Business are two very different things: — To communicate is seeing through — the Falsehood some business brings. — And who is it Pull Da Strings? — The Cost of doing Monkey Business sings. –>>L.T.Rhyme [...]

    Reply
  76. Jennifer -  May 19, 2012 - 8:03 am

    I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH THIS! English is the official language of the United States of America. You want to be a citizen, live and work here – then learn the language!!
    I would not to go France and expect nationals to speak English only to me.
    I would learn French or not expect to prosper. How ignorant and naive for people from other countries to think we should speak their native language in our American schools and businesses!
    AMERICANS better grow a backbone and stick together before we see the demise of our country!!

    Reply
  77. Chris -  May 19, 2012 - 7:49 am

    Monolingualism is a symptom of globalisation. Multi-national corporations have a need to communicate in one tongue, as you say, for purposes of efficiency. I think as long as English grows as a SECOND language, there is no problem per se. Linguistic diversity should be preserved and encouraged.

    Reply
  78. Kimberly -  May 19, 2012 - 7:32 am

    I think it makes perfect sense to have a common language in business and in other areas. It makes communication simpler and allows people to relate to each more easily, plus you don’t need to spend money on expensive translators (who can make mistakes, too). Being that English already has such a prominent place in international business and science, it’s the logical choice for a common language.

    People might be less creative if they don’t work in their native language, that’s true. They would be limited to concepts they could translate. But what’s wrong with making English people’s native language? It’s really easy for people to learn English if you start in kindergarten.

    Reply
  79. Ole TBoy -  May 19, 2012 - 7:25 am

    Requiring English of pilots could be a good thing–provided they speak it in more understandable ways than do many English speakers who respond to technical questions when one calls Apple or some such corporation concerning a tech glitch in an I-Pad or I-Phone. Their English is fine, but their accents are sometimes a great hinderance to comprehension.

    Reply
  80. Kerri -  May 19, 2012 - 6:59 am

    They are teaching immersion programs in the elementaries and I’m having a hard time choosing which language immersion program to put my child in. Which language is the best business language for their future? Russian, English, Mandarin, Japanese, or keep it with Spanish so we can talk to the neighbors now? Any advice?

    Reply
  81. Serna -  May 19, 2012 - 6:53 am

    I think its scary to consider anything that’s “ENGLISH ONLY” as it only exacerbates the attitude of xenophobia and ethnocentrism.

    Reply
  82. Language police -  May 19, 2012 - 6:32 am

    “Begs the question” ? You mean “raises the question”, not petitio principii !

    As for the question you raise, I’ll raise another: How can they communication better in their native tongue if the intention is to fit in with a broader audience that doesn’t share that tongue? Communication is a two-way street.

    Reply
  83. Cook -  May 19, 2012 - 6:20 am

    I think employees should be allowed to communicate with each other in their native tongues. However, I think there should be a common language for international communication. By having this common language there are fewer opportunities for ambiguity and misunderstandings, whatever that common language is. This is especially important for the world’s transportation systems, and also for international trade.

    It is much easier for employees to be creative in their own language, and they should be allowed to do so. When making an international presentation, then the presentation should be made with a common language (English, Farsi, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, etc.) that all parts of the international community agree upon.

    So, should international companies be “English only?” For the final presentation, yes (if that is the language agreed upon). Employees should be allowed to work in their native languages, and then translate the final presentations or results to English (or whatever language is agreed upon).

    Reply
  84. Marc -  May 19, 2012 - 5:47 am

    Confucius wisely commented that to learn a second language is to gain a second mind. The question shouldn’t be whether English should be spoken, but whether steps are being taken to ensure that the speakers truly understand what they say. Command of English is a useful tool, but it can lead to awfully strange results – if you don’t believe me, read a book called “Here Speaching American.”

    Reply
  85. Nyk -  May 19, 2012 - 5:14 am

    Hmmmm this seems interesting. But I don’t think that it should be this way. What about the places that don’t know any english? That would be a big problem. We can’t have a traslater beside/as the pilot everytime!

    _N_

    Reply
  86. anon -  May 19, 2012 - 5:07 am

    Well here in the office we’re implementing an English-Only Policy since our clients are all foreigners and it’s one way of enhancing all the employees’ communication skills

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  87. anonymous -  May 19, 2012 - 4:30 am

    How about nyet?

    Reply
  88. vincent -  May 19, 2012 - 3:15 am

    Yes english is the world business language for every one, you can not make you’re
    Business grow to franchise to the world without communicating in english.

    Reply
  89. Daniel -  May 19, 2012 - 2:36 am

    In my opinion, for saving time and more effective during the whole of working procedures, English proficiency is a must!

    Reply
  90. tarinai -  May 19, 2012 - 12:36 am

    Safety aside, how wonderful the world would be if everybody can communicate with each other? (as mentioned in the article as efficiency) Translators would be out of jobs :) Zukerburg tried to connect everyone in the planet, but I suspect the language barrier is still keeping groups apart.

    My country has prioritised English as the first language, our native language second – where governments around the world tremble at the thought of it. I dare say because of that, we have been very attractive to the world, one of them is attracting foreign investments. Countries will have to take the painful first step, it will be a difficult transistion for perhaps a decade or so, but your future generations would be glad you did. They would have so much more opportunities. I work in an MLC, our American colleagues/couterparts fit right in when they arrive to give training, work on a project, so does any other nationalities. Emails, documents – there is nothing to translate. It is kinda of like a courtesy to everyone, so nobody gets left out. I couldn’t think of another language that does that. And in normal conversations between ourselves, we (can) still speak in our native tongue.

    It is the people, not the government resisting the change. Politicians who suggest anything out of their comfort zone risk getting voted out. (oh sorry, it’s getting political) :)

    Reply
  91. goldie -  May 18, 2012 - 8:59 pm

    I think everybody should use their native languages in their home country. I personally totally disagree with the idea of “Englishizing” all the globe, though on the other hand using English in the air trasnportation industry for safety reasons seems fine to me. If a multinational manufacturing company sets foot in a non-Anglo-Saxon country I think the company should not force English on its employees. No matter how well one speaks English they can never be as creative or productive as they are in their mother tongue. Making hundreds of employees speak English, I believe, is way much harder (cost of language trainings – especially when companies are up to cuting costs to save money) than making the plant leadership or the foreing headquarters’ CEOs and bosses use the language of the country they have settled in.

    Reply
  92. Kirti Khanna -  May 18, 2012 - 7:55 pm

    As people are learning English, it is expanding in different ways. Knowing your native language and other languages creates more creativity. Then one wouldn’t be a schlub.

    Reply
  93. Djm -  May 18, 2012 - 7:38 pm

    Russian may become the language of space for the astronauts and technicians themselves, but if a population were ever to be sent up to the Moon or Mars ect, it’s more than likely that it will be an English speaking majority, and that it will remain the Lingua Franca of the Human race.

    Reply
  94. GalacticPresidentSuperstarMcAwesomeVille -  May 18, 2012 - 7:03 pm

    English is by FAR the most practical language in the world. Sure, other languages may be more beautiful, expressive or sophisticated, but in terms of efficacy/efficiency it’s English all the way. Businesses have nothing to lose and everything to gain by switching to all-English.

    Great news if you ask me!!!!!! :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    Reply
  95. Dave -  May 18, 2012 - 6:41 pm

    Peter – The word is “and,” not “n”, my friend. ;)

    Reply
  96. weishrjung -  May 18, 2012 - 5:53 pm

    Perhaps a more useful article would be to explore the alternatives. What are the alternatives? Esperanto? In a world where 80% of the content on the internet (even in space) is in English, does it not make sense to have a language that at least functions as a lingua franca? The Western world relied for a long time on a quite dead language, Latin, to speak across borders; that day is obviously long past. To use computers to translate–is that really an alternative? Usually a native speaker must go over the computer translation to clear up the mistakes–does that mean everyone should hire their own personal translator for business, medicine, engineering projects, governmental treaties and negotiations? One short article hardly begins to cover the topic.

    Reply
  97. Ann lee -  May 18, 2012 - 4:41 pm

    American businesses should be in English. As for international, they should do whatever they want without complaining employees (in the case of language of course). Dictionary.com, I know you are trying to provoke an outraged response from your readers with this article. Nothing gets people more angry now days then large corporations trying to be efficient and make a profit. And when large corporations start to be…oh, what’s that word? Oh yeah! “Racist”, watch out, because there are some BIG tantrums on the way! You should be ashamed of yourselves!

    Reply
  98. Emma Taylor McJoan -  May 18, 2012 - 4:11 pm

    Ya…

    Reply
  99. sherry rosebud -  May 18, 2012 - 4:06 pm

    Shakespeare’s rich & beautiful kanguage is being ruined and bastardized by Globish and incorrect and ugly English. I am an English translator and hate to see the way the language is going. But I’m fighting a losing battle.

    Reply
  100. Emma Taylor McJoan -  May 18, 2012 - 4:02 pm

    Question: Should business be English-only?
    .
    Answer: The Harvard Business Review recently reported that multinational corporations are encouraging—or mandating—their employees to speak English. Samsung, Airbus, Microsoft in Beijing and many others now enforce English as the language of their business. Even corporations that are based in foreign countries, like Renault in France and Rakuten in Japan, are mandating English communication for their employees. Back in 2010, Rakuten (Japan’s largest online retailer) became an English-only company, encouraging their employees to conduct all business in English: e-mails, memos, and verbal communication.
    In 1997, the International Civil Aviation Organization (which regulates all international air travel) reaffirmed the importance of English as the in-air language of communication. To reduce communication problems, all pilots who fly internationally must speak English. So when a plane is flying from Paris to Madrid, the pilots must speak English. In the air, communication is a matter of safety, and in offices, it’s a matter of efficiency.
    However in other realms, the standard language of communication has shifted away from English. As we discussed last year, the official language of space is now Russian. (Find out more here.)
    This all begs the question: if people communicate better in their native tongue, are you doing them a disservice by forcing them to use English? Will employees be less creative or innovative if they cannot talk or write in their native language?
    Do you think that businesses should be English-only?

    Read more at http://hotword.dictionary.com/businessenglish/?__utma=1.8853838.1333079105.1337306951.1337381443.69&__utmb=1.1.10.1337381443&__utmc=1&__utmx=-&__utmz=1.1337287256.63.1.utmcsr=direct%7Cutmccn=direct%7Cutmcmd=none&__utmv=-&__utmk=200122798#xwptjHy5LxoFmlxb.99

    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    My answer: No, businesses should not be English-only because the earth is a big place. Some people are American. Others are from other places. If you made everyone in the whole world who wants a business to speak English, that’s not going to be possible. Some people can speak English perfectly fine while others struggle the battle of a strong, heavy accent that is covering their English. You cannot just fire them for speaking English horribly because who knows, this person may be some former smart businessman.
    By the way, I have this friend who is an immigrant from Japan and he has this very strong accent that some people cannot understand what he is saying.

    If you agree with me, please let me know because we cannot let this happen!
    Thanks for reading,
    Emma McJoan :)

    Reply
  101. J -  May 18, 2012 - 3:12 pm

    Now if we can just get rid of people who cannot speak english in the states, at least those working where they have to deal with others. I am not saying they should have to give up thier language, but everyone living and working in the US should be able to speak and write english FLUENTLY! I should be able to understand them the first time every time with no effort.

    Reply
  102. Ray -  May 18, 2012 - 2:41 pm

    The switch to Russian for spacework… should use Sumerian instead….

    Reply
  103. Cyberquill -  May 18, 2012 - 2:39 pm

    The language of space is not Russian? How did that happen??? JFK is rolling over in his grave.

    Reply
  104. Peter -  May 18, 2012 - 12:58 pm

    Oh yeah , in case you are interested to know , this is my very very first comment throughout the days I’d been viewing the website’s pages.

    Reply
  105. Peter -  May 18, 2012 - 12:55 pm

    As a matter of fact, I’d been facing the same issue lately.Just being unable to know the terms (business ones) instantly, makes one take things by heart.I believe that discourages one n leads them to insanity.As a result, grades are likely to go down.In simple terms, because it makes one feel at the bottom – always.

    Fact : Despite my entirely Western Name (Commonly used in the West) , Im a coptic dude (sthn related to Egypt , n yes i know what it is).N yes, English is my second language.

    Keep up the good work , Dictionary.com!

    Reply

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