English - Global Language of management


The sun may have set on the British empire but it has not set on the empire's greatest legacy, the English language.

Today, as the process of globalization continues, a global language is needed. And it is obvious that the language is English. In fact, English has already entered the board rooms of several German multinationals such as Hoechst, Deutsche Telekom, Commerzbank who find that English is better than German for communicating exactly and precisely. These companies have decided to use English in executive meetings and memos even when only Germans are present. 

Executives have been told that unless they become totally fluent in English their careers will be blighted and they may even be dismissed.

Leading this trend in Germany is Siemens where virtually every department uses English as the official internal language. Many English managerial buzzwords have been adopted in such companies as Volkswagen and Mercedes - including "lean management", a catchy phrase with no real equivalent in German.

By the year 2000 over one billion people will speak English as a first or second "foreign language".

A recent poll in several European countries showed that the majority of parents want their children to learn English as a second language.

The Israelis who are masters in the art of communication and public relations spend millions of dollars annually to promote and encourage the knowledge and use of English. Israel wants to have an army of eloquent English speakers, knowledgeable and confident, when and if they appear on television and radio or in newspapers abroad. In fact, public speaking in English is part of the curriculum in many Israeli schools. Money is being spent in Arab countries as well. Are we getting the same results?

Personally I find that the use of English in management is very practical. The fact is that the latest trends, theories and ideas in management, finance, business and industry are all written in English.

I sometimes wonder how we can translate Tom Peters' book, The Peter Principle, into Arabic. Lest I be accused of being against Arabic. I state emphatically that promoting English does not mean demoting other languages. Our own beautiful Arabic language can be modernized with new words and expressions added to it. I believe that a language is a living organism and should be treated as such; it changes visibly and often just as a growing child does.

And in my opinion, what has given English its the push ahead and filled it with vitality and dynamism has been the influence from across the Atlantic - by the Americans. Even the English have themselves have not been afraid to copy them. 

We are all awed by the lives of great men - be they politicians, artists, scholars or sports people. When they are alive, the media focuses on their greatness and talents; however, after their deaths we hear about their dark sides.

And we get this information not from their friends or colleagues but, surprisingly, from their relatives and especially their children.

We read about the famous Russian author Toltstoy and his behavior to his wife. Sigmund Freud, the famous psychoanalyst, the father of modern psychiatry, the formulator of many theories dealing with human behavior, himself behaved badly with his family.

Alexander the Great had a very turbulent relationship with his father Philip.

The latest book on Pablo Picasso, the towering figure of twentieth century art, reveals a monster. His daughter Marina paints a disturbing picture of a man who drove some of his relations to their deaths. She recalls a childhood of neglect, the betrayal of her grandmother and the suicide of her brother. Picasso's widow, Jacqueline, was so devastated by his negative behavior that she could not recover and after his death, she shot herself.

People who have genius can be mean and cruel. Their families are often denied a normal life and existence. That is why they suffer.

In the Arab world there have been many great men. We are not, however, have an insight into their lives as their children have not written about them. I wonder what surprises we would get if they did.



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