Land of Hope and Technology February 2016 - Page 6

ISSUE 1 Can two billion people be wrong? That brings us onto language. It has been estimated that two billion people use the English Language to communicate regularly. It may not be the most commonly spoken first language, but it is generally agreed that it is the dominant business language, and an essential tool for anyone looking to work with international partners.This is important for more than one reason. For one thing, the UK attracts talent from all over the world to its universities, in part because of the motivation to improve skills with the English language. For another thing, it gives the UK an advantage, because its indigenous population can ‘speak the lingo like a native’. It is not all advantage, however. For one thing, it is possible that the version of English that will eventually become the language of international commerce, may be a variation. It is often said of the UK and US, two countries separated by a common language. It is quite possible that the version of English that ultimately establishes itself will be a hybrid of English spoken in India and in China, and may be quite different from the language the majority of Brits are brought up to speak. There is also a question over the ubiquity of the English language making the British linguistically lazy, and may discourage people from the UK working abroad in nonEnglish speaking nations, and may detract from the county’s ability to sell its wares abroad – hitting exports. To take a populist example, compare the number of British born football players who have plied their trade outside of the British Isles, compared to nonBritish born footballers. You can count the players on your fingers (maybe your toes as well), who have done so.