In a room full of non-native speakers, ‘there isn’t any chance of understanding’. It might be their language, but the message is often lost
Source: BBC – Capital – Native English speakers are the world’s worst communicators
The BBC has done it again with another excellent article about English language. I have to admit, even though I am a native English speaker, there are times that I don’t understand some of the abbreviations used, and I prefer to spell things out (I think that abbreviations can be a little bit lazy sometimes). But this article makes a fantastic point that native speakers don’t always think about the larger audience of those who speak English as a second or third language. I have no problem asking what something means even in my own language, but that shouldn’t be necessary. One of the things I didn’t like about a job I had was that I was expected to write content in native English, and not try to make it closer to some sort of standard English. “Leave that to the translators to figure out,” I was told. That response irritated me, but I had to comply with what they wanted, even though that’s the wrong way to approach it.
With the advent of the Internet, global communications are much more frequent and common now than even 10-15 years ago. While other countries are making an effort to use the lingua fraca of the Internet, native English speakers should make more of an effort to meet the non-native English speakers part way in being more clear in our communications as well. If someone says they don’t understand me, I’d rather they tell me, because then that’s MY fault, not theirs.
What do you think? Include your thoughts in the comments below.