How English Became King

Marking the great William Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23 is English language day at the United Nations.

Although Shakespeare’s English is generally coveted by literature buffs only, business English is the only way to thrive in today’s global environment. Some companies have even set English as the language of internal communications despite being headquartered in a non-English speaking country, including major global players such as Samsung, Rakuten and more recently Air France.

Today, nearly 1.8 billion people around the world speak English - 350 million as their first language and more than 430 million speak English as their second language. How did English become the global lingua franca?

British Legacy

British imperialism and the English language left their mark around the globe between the 17th and 20th centuries. Toward the end of the 20th Century, the British Empire had colonized nearly a quarter of the world - excluding the United States - leaving a vast segment of the world employing English in legal, administrative and bureaucratic institutions. And because many of these countries were home to multiple languages and dialects, English often remained a common language, even once the British Empire crumbled. Moreover, the British instituted English-language instruction wherever they settled, such that learning English became the norm across much of the world.

American Supremacy

After World War II, the US began its ascendance as an international powerhouse across the cultural and economic spectrum. With the proliferation and spread of Hollywood films, popular music, ubiquitous American companies and their advertising (think Coca Cola) and more recently, the bulk of content on the internet, hearing and learning English became engrained in the minds of people all over the world, consolidating its dominance and influential position. More and more children were learning English by watching popular American television shows, and as the language became widespread in the business, scientific, technological and academic spheres, people realized that learning English was essential to traveling outside their home countries and competing professionally on the international stage. The culture of language was changing around the world an became a nucleus for a broad spectrum of global society.

English Today

Today, in global business and communication, English is decidedly the language of choice. Each generation’s English skills are growing, strengthening and cementing English’s place as the main choice for cross-border communication. As English fluency rises and improves, so do international standards and expectations for peoples’ ability to express themselves well in English, regardless of geography.

Rephraser was created to help people communicate better in English, today’s lingua franca, and level the playing field between people from different backgrounds. It instantly rephrases non-native English for global writers. People use Rephraser to correspond with colleagues and clients, boost their marketplace listings and profiles, and articulate their posts and blogs.

Just because English is not your native language doesn’t mean you should be disadvantaged. So take advantage.

By Ronit Zimmer, first published on April 16, 2016 on