Global English

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

Global English
"Global English is a new kind of lingua franca," says Leslie Dunton-Downer, "but it's also the language of a new kind of culture" (The English is Coming!: How One Language is Sweeping the World, 2010). (Andy Baker/Getty Images)


(1) The term Global English refers to the use of the English language as a common means of communication across cultures--a lingua franca. Also known as International English and Common English.

(2) Global English similarly refers to a form of English used in texts intended for an international audience. In this sense, says Martin A. Schell, "Global English is characterized by simpler sentence structure, less jargon, and no slang, thereby making it a viable global language for countless Web users whose native language is not considered important enough to merit a localization effort" ("Developing a Global Perspective for Knowledge Management" in Information Communication Technologies, 2008).

See the observations below. Also see:



  • "While Modern English continues to be a native tongue to many, . . . another form of English has begun to splinter off from it and to take on a linguistic life of its own. We can reasonably expect a new version of English, Global English as opposed to Modern English, to become increasingly distinct in decades ahead, and to define a new phase in the language's evolution.

    "English has been handed its global identity papers by far-flung communities because the world now requires not just its multiplicity of languages but also a shared tongue--one in which people can begin to shape their global identities, even as they use their new language to articulate the direction of our shared future. In a very real sense, Global English has become a means for us to embrace that future. It is also by now a linguistic fact of life. No one is going to halt Global English in its tracks by trying to prevent others from learning it, or by insisting that a planetary language is anthropologically unnatural or too culturally homogenizing."
    (Leslie Dunton-Downer, The English is Coming!: How One Language is Sweeping the World. Touchstone, 2010)

  • Two Main Functions of Global English
    "The widespread use of English as a language of wider communication will continue to exert pressure toward global uniformity as well as give rise to anxieties about 'declining' standards, language change, and the loss of geolinguistic diversity. But as English shifts from foreign-language to second-language status for an increasing number of people, we can also expect to see English develop a larger number of local varieties.

    "These contradictory tensions arise because English has two main functions in the world: it provides a vehicular language for international communication and it forms the basis for constructing cultural identities. The former function requires mutual intelligibility and common standards. The latter encourages the development of local forms and hybrid varieties. As English plays an ever more important role in the first of these functions, it simultaneously finds itself acting as a language of identity for larger numbers of people around the world."
    (D. Graddol, "English in the Future." Analysing English in a Global Context, ed. by A. Burns, Routledge, 2001)
  • Notes on Global English
    - "Signs of India’s economic boom are omnipresent. [BBC journalist Sam] Miller visits an English school that’s doing great business, as Indians rush to develop the language skills needed to find good jobs at multinational companies. 'The key role of English,' Miller writes, 'is to get a good white-collar job, and to raise your social status. Hindi and other languages are for films, family, friends, and, if you are rich and Anglophone, to give orders to your servants.'"
    (Chuck Leddy, "Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity." The Christian Science Monitor, July 20, 2010)
    - "A stripped-down English of catchphrases and trite idioms, light on richness, is becoming the true global language."
    (Anand Giridharadas, "Language as a Blunt Tool of the Digital Age." The New York Times, Jan. 17, 2010)
    - "The scholarly interest in global English is of mainly British origin. The British seem to be much more aware than, say, the Americans of the necessity of somehow overseeing the development of global English."
    (G. M. Anderman, In and Out of English, 2005)