Skip to main content

Talking the same language...

I question whether language barriers actually exist these days...


Having just returned from a highly enjoyable and most enlightening ISE trip to northern France, I was left wondering whether there really is any such thing as a 'language barrier' today. As we were shown around the two most significant digital and creative industry clusters in the region, namely Euratechnologies and Plaines Images, we were greeted by wonderful hosts speaking near-perfect English, but with that authentic (and rather appealing!) French accent to various words and phrases.

"So what?", you may say. Well, it served to remind me how fortunate I am to be a native-speaker of the de facto standard language for conducting international business. After the attempt (and failure) of the likes of Esperanto to be accepted by the business masses, it was English that remained firmly in the boardrooms of multinational companies and other cross border organisations. If you wanted to expand overseas and the first language of your senior execs wasn't  English, then it was almost a prerequisite to get someone on board that could speak The Queen's lingo .

That said, if your business has ambitious plans for world domination, then you could be forgiven for thinking it might be wise to recruit a person that found Mandarin a walk-in-the-park. The sleeping giant that was  China is well and truly awake, and making lots of noise both inside and outside of its Great Wall. Of course, since Hong Kong was placed back in Chinese mitts, even that change of dimension has defaulted much of its trade language back to English.

Still not convinced? Then think about websites written for and in several different languages. You can bet your bottom dollar (or Euro or Pound) English is one of the choices. Even if there isn't an option for Anglais Google will make a pretty good attempt through its Translate facility to tell you what's on the page. Even AI such as Siri, Alexa and Cortana want to help you converse with others from overseas.

So, what's stopping the juggernaut of British firms steaming across the European continent? I'm not 100% sure...but has anybody heard of this Brexit malarkey...?