Globalise, Standardise?



More than 80% of global trade in goods is carried by sea. The shipping container, which comes in standard sizes and variations, has contributed enormously to the growth in trade in recent decades. The container port pictured here at Valparaiso in Chile is approx. 7,400 nautical miles from London and 10,400 from Dubai.
You could make similar claims for English as a facilitator of trade, with standardisation allowing a broad understanding of terminology and meaning. However, in both cases - containers and English - there's room for diversity. Ports can be very large or quite small, on rivers or on the ocean, the trucks delivering the containers may be driven on the right or left hand side of the road and they may contain a huge range of goods. So it is with English, and an agreed degree of standardisation ensures no misunderstandings between speakers of different first languages. However, when everyone's first language is the same, but English is needed (e.g. to read documents and messages from other sources) it's still possible to combine many local, technical and job-specific terms. This means that even quite modest speakers of English can follow the discussion led by a high level speaker and get the work done.








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EXPANDING VOCABULARY

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Expanding Vocabulary

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