Global English

I have been blogging for two years now and while I rarely read my own blog, I usually cringe when I do – not because I think I have been over sharing (I am very vocal about my life but I always think about what I want to share before I even start writing), but because of the grammatical lapses I keep seeing.
Mistakes which I would never have made when I was younger.
Let me repeat that last bit. Or rather, let me rephrase it for you – my English now is far worse than when I was still a student. It has been deteriorating steadily over the years and hubby could not resist pointing it out to me.
Take note: my English is far from perfect. But it was quite good – not to brag, but I actually got a 99% ranking in my college entrance exam for English. My NEAT and NSAT for English were both 98% and in college, I consistently got the highest grade in our class (even the highest grade given by one professor for the entire batch), so it’s safe to say that I know a thing or two about good grammar.
What I find quite ironic is that the decline didn’t start while I was working for local companies, but rather, when I started working for a multinational company six years ago.
There is a recent study by researchers from the Aarhus University about English in a multinational company and they concluded that while employees from the same country feel they speak/write good English, there are often misunderstandings when it comes to communicating with their counterparts in other countries.
These misunderstandings would often result to what is called the ping-pong effect, in some cases, requiring translators to intervene. There may even be times when employees are sent overseas just to discuss face to face. Over time, unresolved issues can become so aggravated that it can and will affect productivity because of the tensions arising from these little misunderstandings.
No wonder – according to an article in the Financial Times year ago, 80% of all interactions in English are actually between non-native speakers. Given that people tend to think first in their native language and translate it to English as they speak/write, you will most certainly get varied interpretations and translations.
Tell me something I don’t already know. In the six years I’ve been employed in a multinational company (more accurately, three multinationals), I have yet to handle a country which has English for its native language. I know firsthand how frustrating it is to send what you feel is a very clear email, only to have replies sent back and forth because your counterpart can’t understand you. There were even times when I had to resort to drawing diagrams and sending this via email just to stress my point; other times, I am left with no choice but to give rhetorical/leading questions so I would just get an unequivocal yes or no.
But what’s worse is when I have to mimic the other parties’ word usage and grammar just to get the job done. I had this contact who kept calling “figures” as “fingers” and I simply gave up correcting her. Situations like this are what contribute to the slow demise of my near-perfect English.
Plus, I seriously the laptop is partly to blame as well. When I was younger, I would prefer using the typewriter or a notebook and pen to write my thoughts and I would be forced to think things through before I write them down because I can’t erase what I have already typewritten.
But with the advent of very affordable laptops (also, you can’t really expect me to carry a typewriter or a bulky notebook), copy/paste has become as easy as breathing. One other thing I am guilty of is changing my mind halfway through a sentence, resulting in sometimes very vague and unrelated statements. Not to mention mismatched tenses and verbs.
I am not expecting the situation to get any better – I still prefer working in a multinational/multicultural environment and I simply cannot give up my laptop. But the least I can do is to practice, practice, practice. From now on, I will simply refuse to revert to simplistic English (or what we Filipinos call “barok English”) just to please or make life easier.
And I will go back to the basics – PEN & PAPER.
Yes, you read that right. And to motivate myself, I got this very cute notebook. Quite perfect for me – gorgeous cover and unlined yellowish paper, which is exactly the way I like it (I hate ruled paper). I’m a sucker for vintage and this one fits the bill. 
Te Nues notebook, Glamour edition with Audrey Hepburn on the cover and side flap:
It’s almost too beautiful to write on – available at Fully Booked
I couldn’t resist putting flower petals. Haha!
 Wish me luck. And do pardon the slips from time to time. I will get my groove back.
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