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Goldsmiths - University of London

“English is the language of business”: An exploration of language ideologies in two European corporate contexts

Cogo, Alessia and Yanaprasart, Patchareerat. 2018. “English is the language of business”: An exploration of language ideologies in two European corporate contexts. In: Tamah Sherman and Jiri Nekvapil, eds. English in Business and Commerce: Interactions and Policies. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 96-116. ISBN 978-1-5015-1553-8 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

The increased linguistic and cultural diversity of international workplaces
challenges different understandings of corporate language, corporate
communication and even language ideologies. The understanding, attitudes
and ideologies towards language and language policies of members in culturally
and linguistically mixed teams are an important aspect of business
communication studies that so far has received little attention. Through an analysis
of two case studies of MNCs in Switzerland and Italy in the banking sector,
based on semi-structured interviews with employees in those companies, this
paper aims to explore ideologies of multilingualism and English that dominate
in the workplace and those that underpin the official and unofficial corporate
policies adopted. The dominant discourse is that “English is the language of
business” and it remains a fixed and unquestioned corporate language. However,
the importance of collaborative, flexible and multilingual practices at all levels
of professional communication has been highlighted in the experiences reported
by business professionals interviewed. The use of BELF and other languages does
not necessarily function, as companies’ policies would require, following the
monolingual language separation mode, but in a mixed, fluid and flexible mode.
Finally, the promotion of a translingual use of BELF in corporate communication
may allow flexibility and equality in dealing with the diversity of repertoires and
access to resources for plurilingual employees.

Item Type:

Book Section


Language ideologies, multilingualism, Business English as a lingua franca, translanguaging, plurilingual repertoire, OLAT/OLON

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature > Centre for Caribbean Studies


November 2017Accepted
March 2018Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

05 Jan 2018 15:46

Last Modified:

01 Mar 2019 02:26


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