Declaration: I declare that I wrote this thesis by myself and that I used only the sources listed in the bibliography section. Brno, April 2012 Adela Pilátová Acknowledgements

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Masaryk University

Faculty of Education

Department of English Language and Literature

English as a Corporate Language

Bachelor thesis

Adela Pilátová

Brno, April 2012 Supervisor: Mgr. Radek Vogel, Ph.D.


I declare that I wrote this thesis by myself and that I used only the sources listed in the bibliography section.

Brno, April 2012 Adela Pilátová


I would like to thank Mgr. Radek Vogel, Ph.D. for his guidance and professional advice he provided to me during my work on this bachelor thesis.

Brno, April 2012 Adela Pilátová
Table of Contents

1Introduction 5

2English as a lingua franca 6

2.1What is a lingua franca? 6

2.2History of lingua franca 6

2.3What is a global language 7

3Why English as a Global Language 9

3.1Spread of English around the world 9

3.2Speakers of English language 11

3.3Facts that can make English a Global Language 13

3.4The Future of a Global English 14

4 English language in business 17

4.1English in global business 17

4.2English language in European business 18

4.3Aspects of Business English 20

4.4Writing in Global Business English 22

5English language in the Czech Republic 25

6English language in corporations 27

6.1Introduction to research 27

6.2The Questionnaire 28

6.3Obtained data 29

6.4Expressions used at work – “corporate speak” 35

7Conclusion 41

Résumé: 43

List of references: 44

List of charts 48

Appendix 48


Lack of knowledge of language can be one of the greatest barriers to communication between people. As business becomes global, there is a need to communicate with people all around the world. With no doubt English has become the language of global world and inevitably plays a key role in today’s business. People need to be able communicate in English, particularly if they are looking for a job in “white collar” positions. Other languages are always an advantage, but in most of the cases knowledge of English language is must. The dominance of English language is obvious. English has become a language communicated everywhere in the world.

Corporate companies, though not only American or British origin, made English their company language, such as Philips (Dutch company by origin) or Nissan (Japanese company). Employees of such companies are expected to be able to communicate efficiently in English. Having experience in working in such companies, made me write this bachelor thesis. The aim of this work is to prove the actual knowledge of English language of people working in these companies. The communication level varies. Some employees are able to speak explicitly about their work, while others have higher level of language and can speak even about more familiar topics. Grammatical structure of language is not so strictly controlled in these companies when communicating internally but what are the expectations about grammar when sending emails to customers or third parties. Are grammatical features expected to be kept? Is there any difference from Standard English? The term Global English was introduced a few years ago. Global English is simplified to be understandable for wider audience with different levels of language, the evidence and aspects are further explained in the work.

The theoretical part of this thesis is devoted to research and summary of English becoming a lingua franca, spread of the language over the centuries and also what is expected from the language in future. Further work deals with aspects of English in business.

The practical part is focused on the Czech Republic and people working in corporations. The expectation of employers compared to real knowledge of the people, the ability to communicate and frequency of using the language at their work. Research was conducted by questionnaire distributed to different companies and different fields of work to get a general idea. A short part of the research is devoted to specific vocabularies used in these companies and similarities among them although they all come from different companies. These similarities may help to prove the term Corporate English.

2English as a lingua franca

2.1What is a lingua franca?

A lingua franca is a language used by different nations to communicate with each other, when they do not share common language. Originally the lingua franca is supposed to be the second language based on the native language of two or more parties. The language may spread and the native populations will speak the lingua franca among themselves as well. The most common example of contemporary lingua franca is English. It is the language of international business, science, technology and aviation (“Lingua Franca”).

2.2History of lingua franca

The term lingua franca was first time used in the Middle Ages. It was language created as a combination of Italian and French languages. This new language was used mainly by tradesman and crusaders. The language simplified nouns, verbs and adjectives from both languages. Jennifer Jenkins writes in her book that there used to be earlier languages that played role of lingua franca. However, the language in Mediterranean area was first language named lingua franca. Before that, languages should be referred to as ‘contact language’, ‘auxiliary language’ or ‘trade language/jargon’ (Jenkins, 1). Other researchers found other languages that served as a lingua franca, for example Arabic as a consequence of spread Islamic Empire in the 7th century. Arabic language played an important role also in 13th century as a language of science and diplomacy, because at that time vast majority of books were written in Arabic. Throughout the history different languages played the role of lingua franca, for example until the 18th century, Latin became the lingua franca of European scholars. It allowed communication among people especially whose native languages were for example Italian and French. In the Age of Exploration lingua franca played very important role in allowing European explorers to make the trade easier and communicate in the various countries with ease. Portuguese used to be a trade as well as diplomatic language for some areas in Africa, India and Japan. Malay served as a language of the area of Southeast Asia, when first Europeans arrived they acquired the language to enable them to communicate with native people. The 20th and 21st centuries are ages of technology and the trade has been replaced by business. Growing of these two things English is becoming the lingua franca (Briney, “Lingua Franca”).

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