When my son Max saw this sign on our way into a remote hill town in the Marche region of Italy, he said, “ I wonder why they don’t like big bands here.” Upon further reflection, we all realized it meant no car horns.
After a little chuckle, the whole experience gave me pause. If there are miscommunications with pictorial cultural messages, can you imagine how many misunderstandings there are just in the European Union with over 24 official languages spoken?
This is why a version of English, coined Globish by Jean-Paul Nerrière in 1995, emerged. Globish describes a version of the English language that relies on simplified grammar and a vocabulary of 1,500 words. Globish is a tool for communication, not a language and it is spoken in some form by 88% of mankind. It is idiom free and therefore much more easily understood across cultural lines.
Many of the people I meet and do business with in Europe speak two to four languages and Globish is their default because it is the one most people have in common. As a native English speaker, this is good and bad news. In a pinch, I can almost always find someone who speaks Globish to help me.
On the other hand, Globish is tricky for me as a native English speaker as it is easy to launch into english as I know it, with all its complexities. From a business standpoint, it has highlighted how frequent misunderstandings are even when we are speaking the same language.
The lesson for me with Globish is that simplifying things, just a little bit every day, and being intentional in our communications no matter how brief (from novel to tweet) could benefit all of us!