Globish – better global understanding

Globish is the name for a subset of the English language that non-native English speakers adopt in the context of international business.

It is a sort of “light English” that uses a subset of standard English grammar and a list of 1500 English words.

The name Globish is the merger of the world “global” and “English”.

The inventor of the term Globish is Jean-Paul Nerriere. This idea was first introduced when he was the vice president of International Marketing at IBM, as he explained during an interview:

“My job gave me the opportunity to travel a lot around the world. I went very often to Tokyo and Seoul. This is where I observed that my communication with the Japanese and the Koreans was much easier and more efficient than what could be observed between them and the American or British employees. Then, I observed it was the same in all non-English speaking countries. I came to the conclusion that the language non-Anglophones spoke together was not English, but something which sounded vaguely like it, but in which we were better off than genuine Anglophones. I refined the thinking, added more detailed observations, and made a theory out of it: this is Globish.”

He later developed rules and training in the form of two books to help non-native English speakers better communicate with each other by using Globish as their lingua franca.

“English is not really needed, Globish is enough to reach and enjoy fruitfully the threshold of understanding”. According to Nerriere, communication in the third millennium will be based on Globish, the worldwide dialect.

English is the international language, it is the most widely used medium of communication through interlocutors from all around the world. We can say that today without the knowledge of English a person is totally lost in every field of human activity.

But, actually, Globish, as Nerriere himself said, is not a language. A language is the DNA of a culture, it carries a heritage coming from history, it shapes the way we think and act. Globish has no such ambition, it is only a tool to communicate internationally.

Although Nerrière claims that the Globish described in his book is a natural language, he has never published any statistical evidence of his observations.

Strong criticism has been expressed against Globish:

  • Someone thinks that its modifications are not sufficiently clearly rendered, someone else that an artificial language is preferable to any natural one;
  • It is accused of cultural imperialism because it spreads only one language from which the subset of words is taken.
  • It is also criticised for having a profit-oriented motive. It is a registered trademark and some marketing is done with it, since its owner did not renounce his rights to it, as for example, Zamenhof did for Esperanto.

Beyond every criticism, the use of the term Globish has grown increasingly since the publication of the first book mentioning it.

In 2009, Nerriere and David Hon published Globish the World Over, the first book written entirely in Globish-English. By 2011, Globish the World Over had been translated into 12 languages and was a best seller in Japan. Also in 2011, the Globish Foundation was formed as a non-profit organization in Australia, for the purpose of maintaining and promulgating the standards of Globish. By 2013, the Globish Foundation had 8 national affiliates and an online Globish Communications Test.

In conclusion, we can say that it’s clear that Globish is nothing but another product of globalisation and the natural consequence of modern people’s necessity to be linked throughout the world.

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One thought on “Globish – better global understanding

  1. Hi. An interesting piece. I’ve heard of Globish but good to find out a bit more. Rather than teaching people a “new” version of English, I often wonder if we should be training the native speakers how to communicate with non-natives. My clients here in Germany try so hard to improve their English and then a Brit or an American comes along and blows their confidence by using tricky slang terms and tons of phrasal verbs.

    Liked by 1 person

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