Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The business of language protection

Concerns about the use of English by Danish businesses in the Copenhagen post:

The widespread use of English in Danish businesses has led the Danish Language Council to call for language protection initiatives to ensure the preservation of Danish as a business language.

A survey from the Confederation of Danish Industry in 2007 showed that one out of four companies uses English as its primary working language.

I was surprised by the "one out of four" number, but it probably understates the case as I suspect that larger firms, which will be more likely to do business internationally, will also be more likely to use English.

The language council has proposed that companies keep official tabs on their English and Danish usage. Those books, besides being a reliable source of information, would also allow the businesses to ‘reflect’ upon how much English is used in their everyday operations, according to Kirchmeier-Andersen.

I like this idea of having businesses "reflect". Maybe they can do some meditation too?

Of course, one could also argue that the goal of increasing labor mobility within the EU militates in favor of the use of English rather than local languages at businesses in EU member countries. Increased labor mobility would have both economic benefits and "solidarity" benefits in helping to further the cause of social and cultural unification within Europe.

Hat tip: Lars Skipper