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English in international business — examples

In his excellent book The Mother Tongue: English & How It Got That Way, Bill Bryson gives four interesting examples which prove that English is the language of business:

  • The six countries — members of the European Free Trade Association — communicate in English. And none of them are English-speaking countries!
  • In 1977, four companies from France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland started Iveco (a truck-making company). They chose English as Iveco’s official language.
  • When the Swiss company Brown Boveri and the Swedish company ASEA merged in 1988, they decided to use English in the new company.
  • When Volkswagen opened a factory in Shanghai it found that there were too few Germans who spoke Chinese, and too few Chinese who spoke German. So now German engineers and Chinese managers communicate in English.