Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How to; Helen Vandevelde Offers Useful Tips on Communicating with Our Foreign Business Associates by Speaking Global English, and Not Just Shouting Slowly at Them

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How to; Helen Vandevelde Offers Useful Tips on Communicating with Our Foreign Business Associates by Speaking Global English, and Not Just Shouting Slowly at Them

Article excerpt

PRESIDENT Bush is receiving lots of plaudits for the way he has handled the American response to the terrorist outrages of 11 September.

However, his use of the English language has impressed fewer people. The Islamic world has reacted with hostility to his use of terms such as "crusade" and "infinite justice", while European audiences have grimaced at his references to "smoking out the enemy" and "wanted dead or alive".

But while some sections of the world have taken unkindly to what many see as the "dumbing down" of the English language, there is one large international audience which will warm to the simple sentence structures the president is so fond of. These are the business men and women who do not speak English as their first language, but use it to communicate with one another around the planet.

English has become the global language of international business and some of our business cousins can use it to communicate very effectively with each other, even if it can often leave someone who speaks English as the mother tongue somewhat baffled. For every firstlanguage English-speaker in the world, there are three people who use English as non-native speakers.

Global English is very different from the language people born in London or Chicago might use. Its main features are short sentences, straightforward expression and absence of idiom and jargon. It is spoken more slowly than standard English and its main purpose is to communicate rather than impress.

First-language English-speakers often find themselves frozen out of conversations between people using global English, because the language they use is too complex for their listeners to follow. So, how can first-language English-speakers acclimatise to the strippeddown version that is spreading like wildfire across the business world? Here are some suggestions: Slow down: speak clearly but without pronouncing every word carefully. You can still be natural in the way you speak. …

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