;I’m very wary of statistics on how many people speak English as a second language. In my experience, those who claim fluency are far from fulfilling my (perhaps lofty) definition of the word. Countless thousands of businesspeople have a passable command of it, enough to get them through a meeting or type up an e-mail, but they are not fluent, nor is the language being batted around conference halls anything better than a sorry dilution of the English language. It’s a nasty “lite” version called International English where everyone is on a first-name basis, and nobody’s quite sure what all those apostrophes replace. It has no style, no poetry, no nuance, and no purpose other than to do business. It is indeed the new Lingua Franca, and will ensure only that you’ll get your martini dry, a room for the night and increase your third quarter earnings. It will not equip you to enjoy James Joyce, or even Dr. Seuss. It is nothing to rejoice about.
Posted July 12, 2003