How important is the English language?

Global Trends, Languages10 October 20143.6k

The increasing globalization of the world has lessened the importance of individual languages in some eyes.

People need to be able to communicate, regardless of where they are from. Whether it is business, travel or in emergencies, the capacity to understand one another will make things much easier. 

English has emerged as the global language of business in recent decades, and it's easy to see why. With roughly 1.8 billion speakers, it boasts nearly three times more non-native speakers than native speakers – English truly is the new lingua franca.

And the tongue was celebrated in all its glory on October 13th, as this was English Language Day.

"What began as the language of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes on a small island has become a global property. It is owned and shaped by almost two billion English speakers across the Earth," said Professor Bill Lucas of The English Project – the organisers of the appreciation day. 

"Through an extraordinary combination of accidents, conquests and technological advances, English is now the language of the world." 

The importance of the English language

The figures surrounding the English language are quite startling. It has borrowed words from over 350 languages, with Latin (20,000) and French (20,000) relied on the most. The Oxford English Dictionary has over 600,000 headwords, the International Scientific Vocabulary has 200,000 words and the average vocabulary of a university-educated person is about 50,000 words.

This underlines just how sophisticated English has grown to become, while it has never been more relevant. According to the English Project, the English language is "not only the vehicle of our heritage; it is the greatest jewel in that heritage".

English is also one of only two working languages used by the UN Secretariat, and it is one of the organization's six official languages. As the body freely admits, its popularity means that it is a "world language".

The global language of business

Doing business in foreign markets creates a number of challenges, such as the difficulty in organising face-to-face meetings and actually communicating once you get there. But the growth in international trade and economic opportunities has brought the issue of communication to the fore. 

While linguistic diversity can be overcome through the use of highly-skilled translators, the growing importance of English means this problem is occurring less frequently. Indeed, companies that fail to implement English as their corporate language of choice are certain to face delays in their business processes at some stage because of language problems. 

By streamlining the communication process, organisations can make it much more efficient. For example, firms can consider adopting English as their official language.

With English having official or special status in at least 75 countries, its place in the business world is secured. From very humble roots, English has managed to become the dominant global language, so make sure it is part of your corporate culture if you want to be successful in the long term. 

Posted by Oct 13th is English Language Day, so let’s have a look at the language and how relevant it is today.


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