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Monday, February 27, 2017

Don't speak English - Parlez Globish

Download two free chapters from 'Globish The World Over'


There are 615,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary. This is a collection of all the words that have been used in the English language. Very few native English speakers know more than 80,000 of these words (on their best day). And though they may remember 80,000 words, very few native English speakers will use more than 7,500 English words in their communication.

The English Language can be extremely complicated if an English speaker or writer wants to show off all of its possibilities in words and structure to other English speakers. However, the form of English called Globish gives us a simpler, more universal tool to communicate with more than five times as many people.

Globish is a simple, pragmatic form of English codified by Jean-Paul Nerrière, a retired vice-president of IBM in the United States. It involves a vocabulary limited to 1,500 words, short sentences, basic syntax, an absence of idiomatic expressions and extensive hand gestures to get the point across.

Mr Nerrière, 66, originally sought to help non-English speakers — and notably his compatriots from France — in the era when business meetings are invariably held en anglais. He advised that instead of struggling to master the Queen’s English, they should content themselves with Globish.

“Globish is a proletarian and popular idiom which does not aim at cultural understanding or at the acquisition of a talent enabling the speaker to shine at Hyde Park Corner”, he wrote. “It is designed for trivial efficiency, always, everywhere, with everyone”.

Mr Nerrière says that his globalised version of English is now so common that Britons, Americans and other English-speakers should learn it too. “The point is that Anglophones no longer own English”, he told The Times in Paris. “It is now owned by people in Singapore, Ulan Bator, Montevideo, Beijing and elsewhere”.

He says that in multi-national meetings, Anglo-Saxons stand out as strange because they cling to their original language instead of using the elementary English adopted by colleagues from other countries. He said that commercial ventures could depend upon the mastery of Globish. “If you lose a contract to a Moroccan rival because you’re speaking an English that no one apart from another Anglophone understands, then you’ve got a problem”.

Here's a short reminder of how English got started:

Aware that purists may baulk at his ideas, Mr Nerrière insists that Globish should be confined to international exchanges. Other languages — French, German, Italian as well as orthodox English — should be preserved as vehicles of culture.

Try this Globish scanner to see if your English passes the test.