Today I was driving and listening to Radio 4’s Word of Mouth programme. I love Radio 4 because it’s constantly challenging what I know and understand about the world. Word of Mouth today just happened to bring up a subject close to my heart today.

If the English language is being used as a means of global communication does it need to be ‘correct’ English as used by native speakers?

In the translation industry native speakers are essential as the people who are reading the final target translations are clearly native speakers themselves.

Can English be adapted for local use to aid clarity?

But when a language is used purely as a common form of communication is it as vital that all the language is perfect as long as the communication is flowing and there is no loss in understanding?

One example given in the programme is of a group of engineers from various countries. They conversed in English but adapted and clipped words to suit their own linguistic norms and not necessarily those used in standard UK English.

So for example they would use “Two system” instead of “Two systems” their explanation is that they stated that they mean system in the plural sense because they’d add the “Two” before the “system”. While native English speakers would balk at this for the people in the conversation there was no loss of clarity.

For me this is a great example of how language develops and adapts wherever in the world it is used. As a translation agency it something that we have to be aware of so that we can deliver finished translations our clients need.

Here’s a link to the Word of Mouth programme I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.