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There are an estimated 7,139 languages worldwide. In order to communicate with others, we need to use at least one of these languages. This becomes even more complex in a business setting; when they conduct an international business transaction, they must also decide on a common language. These companies do this to improve communication and performance by using a powerful language: English. According to Tsedal Neele, they choose English because it is the global language of business and “more multinational companies are mandating English as the common corporate language”.  It has become one of the default languages in settings of international relations, such as the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, and the Red Cross among others.

But who or what determined that English was the most powerful language in the world—instead of languages like Mandarin, the most spoken language in the world, or French? While researching the topic, I found out that this is determined by the Power Language Index (PLI). This index was created by the economist Kai L. Chan in the year 2016. In his article “The World’s Most Powerful Languages”, Chen states that the PLI takes these five aspects into consideration when studying a language: “the ability to travel widely, the ability to earn a livelihood, the ability to communicate with others, the ability to acquire knowledge and consume media, and the ability to engage in diplomacy”. It then uses twenty different variables to determine the most powerful languages; some of these variables are the number of countries where it is spoken, the number of native speakers, and the language of the internet. The results of this index stated that English gained the most points (0.889), followed by Mandarin (0.411), French (0.337) and Spanish (0.329). The index is scaled so that each indicator takes a score in the range of 0 to 1. Thus, this influences not only how powerful corporations view the world, but how we view it also. 

Finally, those countries that do not have English as their official language like the Netherlands (official language: Dutch), Argentina (official language: Spanish) and Malaysia (official language: Bahasa Malaysia) have a benefit because English will be taught as a second language in their schools. These children will not only learn English, but their native language as well. It opens many doors for career opportunities and international relationships. But we cannot forget about the other rising languages on the list, such as Mandarin and French. We do not know how long the reign of the English language will last, so it is imperative to keep on learning new languages.

English major with an International Relations minor at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. Also third place winner of the International YRE Competition 2020.
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