Global Lingo Blog

The world’s second language

English is such a weird language.

English is weird

And yet so many people choose to learn it and speak it every day. The number of native English speakers pales to those of Chinese or Spanish. But English is the second language for many nations worldwide. People choose to learn English and they do this for different reasons: a better job, a better education, a better life. But why do they choose English over any other language, maybe a less weird language?

Because English is everywhere.

English in BUSINESS

Are there any international businesses out there which don’t use English as their preferred communication language? Of course there are; we live in a big world.

A German company doing business in Germany, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic is probably relying on German for that matter. But English might prove to be a better choice for a German company doing business in Germany, the UK, the USA, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Australia.

Sometimes English is the best option even for companies that apparently have nothing to do with the English-speaking world. For example, a Finnish company doing business in Romania. Few Finns know Romanian and few Romanians know Finnish. But both the Finns and the Romanians know English as a second language. Communication language problem: solved.

A Reuters report conducted by Ipsos Global Public Affairs confirms even from 2012 that more than two thirds of employees, of 25 nationalities, who deal with people in other countries, use English most often.

English in SCIENCE

It’s a good thing Einstein didn’t have to pass an English test before sharing his knowledge with everyone, because who could know what would have happened to the scientific world today if he had failed? He would have probably mocked anyone coming up with the idea that English is better than German in the first place.

But English did become the most used and translated language in science, while German, French and other languages stayed behind. Look no further than this year’s Nobel scientific awards: different subjects, different people, different backgrounds, theses and projects written (also) in English.

English in IT

Information is powerful.

The internet is full of information.

English is evolving along with the internet.

Is it safe to say that English is powerful?

While there are more and more studies showing that people are surfing the internet in their own languages and the number of these languages is quite impressive, English is still the most used language in the world wide web.

Why ENGLISH?

How did English become the lingua franca in business, science, technology and even other fields? Why do people from all over the globe choose to learn English?

As a conclusion, I will let Jay Walker, a TED speaker, offer an answer to this question:

Is English a tsunami, washing away other languages? Not likely. English is the world’s second language. Your native language is your life. But with English you can become part of a wider conversation: a global conversation about global problems. (…) The world has other universal languages. Mathematics is the language of science. Music is the language of emotions. English is becoming the language of problem-solving. Not because America is pushing it, but because the world is pulling it. English represents hope for a better future – a future where the world has a common language to solve its common problems.

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