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What is Business English?

Dernière mise à jour : 27 juin 2023

I need to learn Business English? OK, what's that?

It seems a silly question really, but what do we actually mean when we say "Business English"? Are we talking about a subset of the English language, or is it just a term used to describe the use of English in a specific context?

English is English but businessmen (and to a far lesser degree businesswomen) have been creating inventive and frankly bizarre ways to sound more 'businessy' in an attempt to sound clever. The result is that they leave co-workers perplexed and they become the butt of David Brent jokes around the office. David Brent is the fictional office manager portrayed by Ricky Gervais in 'The office' and if you have watched The office or it's US counterpart you will probably know of a manager who bears a striking resemblance to him.

New vocabulary and phrases are coined daily and have made the world of business a complex and confusing arena, and that's just for the natives!

So, should we be teaching or learning these buzzwords? Should we accept 'The new normal'? Be 'levelling up' our English or 'circling back' to revise business jargon? No. No. No.

The fundamental thing about any language, (and if you have been a student of mine you will have heard me say this) is that it allows us to transfer our thoughts to another person. The clearer our language, the easier it is for the other person to understand and act on that message.

Introducing jargon in any language makes it more likely the listener either won't understand, or even worse will misunderstand and do something different to what you expected.

On this note I'd like to leave you with the acronym KISS that one of our students (a computer programmer) told me about. It's an inside joke in his company about making things too complex when programming but applies just as easily to learning a language.

It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid! Don't overcomplicate your language. Get the message across clearly and simply.

As Einstein is quoted as saying "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough yourself".

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