Choosing between International and Standard English: Best Practices

Posted by Audrey Dubois-Boutet on Oct 19, 2010 Oct 19, 2010

Standard and International EnglishWhat if you are trying to communicate with a country that uses English as an official language? Or you are using English to speak with people in the business world? Your work is done, right?

Not so fast. You need to choose which type of English to use: International or Standard English. Here is how to distinguish between the two:

International English
• Accepted as standard communication around the world
• Language does not include references to local culture and can be understood by everyone (fewer idioms and expressions)

Standard English
• Accepted as the norm in Anglophone countries; will be different based on region
• Spelling and word use differs (e.g. the use of the word “trousers” in the UK versus “pants” in the U.S.)

If you’re looking to reach the greatest number of people with the least amount of effort, you will be interested in International English. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more personal campaign and wish to reach people on a deeper level, using Standard English will be key.

Using Standard English ensures a more personal connection with clients and consumers, which is extremely useful in sales and marketing endeavors. You may want to test your campaign with locals, to make sure your message is understood and elicits a response.

Although it is less time-consuming to use International English, it is rarely recommended. By localizing content to different varieties of Standard English, you are nurturing a bond between yourself and your business contacts. That makes for long-lasting relationships!

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Further Reading
Check out the following link to a book (online in its entirety), written by David Graddol, which predicts the future state of English around the world: The Future of English

Topics: Localization, Language