Globish (Nerriere)

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The word "globish", with all letters in red and the picture of a globe in blue and green colors.
Created by Jean-Paul Nerrière
Date 2004
Setting and usage international auxiliary language
Early forms
Sources vocabulary from a list of 1500 English words, and grammar based on a subset of standard English grammar
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog None

Globish is a trademarked name for a subset of the English language formalized by Jean-Paul Nerrière.[1] It uses a subset of standard English grammar, and a list of 1500 English words. Nerrière claims it is "not a language" in and of itself,[2] but rather it is the common ground that non-native English speakers adopt in the context of international business. Barbara Cassin claims that Globish is not a language of culture, but a language of service.[3]

Origin and development of Globish

The author of Globish presents it as a natural language as opposed to an artificial or constructed language, claiming that it is a codification of a reduced set of English patterns as used by non-native speakers of the language. Intending to demonstrate that "Good Globish is correct English", the authors of the 2009 book Globish The World Over claimed to have written it in Globish. Robert McCrum, literary editor of the London Observer, is quoted as supporting the efficacy of the language.[4]

While serving as vice president of international marketing at IBM, Jean-Paul Nerriere first observed patterns of English that non-native English speakers used to communicate with each other in international conferences.[2][5] He later developed rules and training in the form of two books to help non-native English speakers better communicate with each other by using Globish as a lingua franca.[6]

McCrum wrote the book Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language (ISBN 9780393062557), describing Globish as an economic phenomenon, unlike "global English" whose uses are much more diverse than just business.[7]

Use of the name Globish

The name Globish is a portmanteau of "global" and "English". The first attested reference to the term to refer to a set of dialects of English spoken outside of traditional English speaking areas was in an issue of the Christian Science Monitor in 1997:[8]

Indeed, the "globish" of world youth culture is more and more interactive. Non-Western forms of English now are as creative and lively as Chaucerian or Shakespearean or Dickensian English once were.[9]

The term was then used in another context by Madhukar Gogate to describe his proposed artificial dialect based on English that he presented in 1998 to improve English spelling.

Nerrière's use of the term is related to his claim that the language described in his books is naturally occurring. He has marked his codification of that language by taking out trademark protection on the term, as did I.A. Richards who trademarked Basic English in order to prevent dilution and misrepresentation of his work.[10][11] Instances of attested prior usage, it can be seen, were incidental or not intended for the same purpose.

Nerrière's 2004 codification work began to legitimize the language purpose to the extent it drew some press attention. Clearly, and with much subsequent reference, the term Globish has grown increasingly as a generic term since the date of his first publications.

In 2009, Nerriere and David Hon published Globish the World Over, the first book written entirely in Globish-English. By 2011, Globish the World Over had been translated into 12 languages and was a best seller in Japan. Also in 2011, the Globish Foundation was formed as a non-profit organization in Australia, for the purpose of maintaining and promulgating the standards of Globish. (Globish appears to be the only English subset for non-native English speakers with a published set of rules.) By 2013, the Globish Foundation had 8 national affiliates and an online Globish Communications Test available 24/7.[12]

Anti-Globish activism

One of the very concrete points of “anti-Globish” activism consists in producing bilingual editions and in making sure the manuals that teach language propose not only communication, but also culture, in other words of beauty.[3]

Related systems

Special English is also a controlled subset of the English language with about 1500 words, short sentences, and slower delivery than traditional English. Special English was first used on October 19, 1959, and is still presented daily by the United States broadcasting service Voice of America.

Specialized English is a controlled subset of the English language derived from Special English by Feba Radio. It also has about 1500 words, with some differences in the word list from Special English.


Critics of Globish either feel that its codifications are not sufficiently clearly rendered, or that an artificial language is preferable to any natural one.[citation needed]

  • Although Nerrière claims that the Globish described in his book is a natural language, he has never published any statistical evidence of his observations. Joachim Grzega, a German linguist, has even gone as far as to state "Obviously, it is not based on any empirical observations, neither on native-nonnative nor on nonnative-nonnative discourse."[13]
  • Globish is suspected of cultural imperialism, because it spreads only one language from which the subset of words is taken: this criticism is often by the speakers of other "neutral" languages, meant as languages not spoken in any nation. Clearly, derivative forms which have "English" in their titles are doubly suspect. According to CIA's "World Factbook", native English speakers represent only 4.68% of the world population[14], including native and non-native speakers the total proportion of all English speakers is estimated to be 10-15%[15].
  • Globish is criticized for having an ulterior economic motive. It is a registered trademark and some marketing is done with it, since its owner did not renounce his rights to it (as for example L.L. Zamenhof did for Esperanto; on the other hand, I.A. Richards discussed why he trademarked Basic English, in order to prevent dilution and misrepresentation[10]).

See also


  1. ^ "Globish now the lingua franca of world travellers" The Australian, December 12, 2006.
  2. ^ a b "Parlez vous Globish? Probably, even if you don't know it", Toronto Star, March 7, 2009.
  3. ^ a b "The power of bilingualism: Interview with Barbara Cassin,". Retrieved March 20, 2017. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ McCrum, Robert: "So, what's this Globish revolution?" The Observer, December 3, 2006.
  6. ^ "New lingua franca upsets French" BBC News, January 23, 2009.
  7. ^ Isaac Chotiner (2010-05-31). "Globish for Beginners". The New Yorker. 
  8. ^ Among the New Words, 2007, American Speech 82.1 Georgia College & State University.
  9. ^ 'Cultural Imperialism Aside, English Spans Linguistic Gulfs', Nigel Young, professor of sociology, Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., Christian Science Monitor, 29 December 1997
  10. ^ a b Basic English and Its Uses, W.W. Norton, 1943
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Globish and Basic Global English (BGE): Two Alternatives for a Rapid Acquisition of Communicative Competence in a Globalized World? by Dr Joaquin Grzega, a German linguist.
  14. ^ english version reported by the International Liaison Committee of Atheists and Freethinkers and the original French version of the same article, with sources
  15. ^ "English". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-11-17. 

External links

  • Official international Globish site
  • Official ebook about Globish: "Globish The World Over"- free sample chapters
  • Interview with Jean-Paul Nerrière (author of Parlez Globish)
  • Nerrière's Globish site
  • BASIC GLOBISH (Text) (Globish Word Listing 1,500 words)
  • Globish vocabulary (PDF) (1500 words; from Nerrière's site)
  • Globish words explained in English (PDF)
  • Yvan Baptiste's site about Nerrière's Globish (in French; gives pronunciations for the 1500 words)
  • Critical comments on Globish by Joachim Grzega in the article Globish and Basic Global English (BGE), published in the Journal for EuroLinguistiX
  • So, what's this Globish revolution? Guardian Unlimited 3 December 2006
  • Nerrière on Globish (Video)
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