chapter  29
14 Pages

The Englishes of business

ByCatherine Nickerson

Braj Kachru’s classic work on World Englishes distinguishes three groups of speakers of English: speakers of English as a first language (e.g. the UK, USA); speakers of English as a second language (e.g. Singapore, India), who have developed their own norms for using English; and speakers of English as a foreign language (e.g. China, Italy) in which norm referencing is made to an Anglo-Saxon variety of English, e.g. American or British English (Kachru 1985). In this seminal work, Kachru presents three concentric circles, each of which contains a different set of nations depending on the status that English has within those nations and the way in which English is used. The inner circle is composed of the Anglo-Saxon countries, where English is used across all domains, although it may increasingly co-exist with other languages. The outer circle consists of those countries that were colonized (by Britain), where English was adopted in some domains as a result of this colonization, and where it is still widely used for institutional, legal and educational purposes. And the expanding circle consists of the remaining countries in the world, where there are no linguistic or historical ties to any of the English-speaking countries, but where English may now be widely used for business, educational or technological reasons, alongside the individual nations’ first languages. Researchers interested in the use of English in business have also focused on these three different sets of countries and the groups of speakers associated with them, and have shown that for at least the last two decades, English has been the dominant language of business. In this chapter, I will give an overview of the existing research, focusing on the use of English as a first language, second language and foreign language in business organizations, and the different situations in which it is used. In doing so, I will also attempt to place the Englishes of business within the existing World Englishes framework.