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13 January 2011

Globish: English for the rest of the world?

Globish.com I've blogged a few times in the past about my very first project, a global CRM implementation that replaced 20 different systems with a single instance of a single application to serve the entire service division of a Fortune 500 company. It was an ambitions project, one that did eventually work, but it took a long time to get there.
One of the hurdles that project had to overcome was language. The company was headquartered here in the US, so English was the language used to communicate for most project purposes. When the project team members from around the world came together to talk, we did so in English. We were quite fortunate to have many of the non-US based team members who had either worked or lived part of their lives here in the US.

But there were several team members who spoke only enough English to reach a minimum level of functional communication during team discussions. True, their English was light years above my ability to speak their native languages (which is zero as I speak no other language but English), but had their English been more fluent (or my French/Spanish/German/etc been fluent), it would have meant many fewer struggles to bridge that communication gap.

Because of this project, the concept of Globish really spoke to me. English is not an easy language to learn. Its irregular, has an absurd number of exceptions to every rule and probably worst of all, those of us who speak it use an even more absurd number of idioms to 'enhance' what we say. Check out the video for more information:



What about you guys who work on international teams? Would a minimum set of words and with a simplified sentence structure make communication easier for you?