Since the very beginning, human beings have needed to communicate. At first, they communicated by grunts and gestures, but humans kept progressing and created words, which allowed them to communicate more explicitly. As time passed, humans ended being spread all around the world, but their need for communicating was still there. Each group had its way of expressing itself, and even though they negotiated with the members within their groups, they also needed to connect with other groups, and this is how diplomacy began. The main goal of this paper is to analyze the importance of the English language in international relations. For this, we will explore how languages, specifically English, affect some aspects of international relations, such as diplomacy and communication barriers.
Language has significantly progressed since its creation. Each country has its own culture and language, but this does not mean that they do not interact. In today’s modern society, the need to communicate with other countries is growing every day, which is why there needs to be a language that allows them to connect.
Business is a worldwide phenomenon, so the representatives of each country use diplomacy to work out problems and reach an agreement between the parts involved. While negotiating, the representative of each party must know the boundaries set by their counterpart so that they can discuss where they disagree and try to compromise in a way that both parties are satisfied. For there to be an understanding in negotiations, one must overcome the obstacles that appear along the way.
There are many obstacles to international relations; one of the most common are communication barriers. When two or more parties with different languages negotiate, they are prone to misunderstandings, since sealing a deal is not a simple task; it requires trust and understanding, but how can there be trust or understanding of the negotiation is between people with different native languages and who do not have a language to use as common ground? It is easy; when there are communication barriers, there is no trust or understanding. To reduce the probability of miscommunication, one must learn how to deal with different cultures and accept that there needs to be an agreement as to how to communicate.
Whether people are aware of it or not, English is the go-to language when speaking with someone with a different first language. English is considered the go-to language because it is a “simple language” so it is easy to learn and understand. Another advantage of using English is its rich vocabulary, which grants a broader range of words from which you can choose.
Language is every sign, gesture, sound, and symbol used to send a message. It is essential since it is the way humans communicate with one another. Some linguists advocate that thanks to the development of their language skills, our predecessors were able to thrive and triumph over the other hominid (Mayell, 2003).
The language permits you to communicate your thoughts into everyone else’s mind (Pagel, 2011). For effective communication and understanding of the meaning assigned to words, signs, and symbols is necessary. Each country has its language, which is why there is a need for a common language to work as an intermediary between different speaking countries. There are indeed other methods; however, they are not as effective. One method is that one representative uses the language of the other. The problem is that whoever agrees to use the other’s language is at a disadvantage since the knowledge of the said language may not be enough (Kurbalija & Slavik, 2001). Another method is the use of interpreters, but it is time-consuming, expensive, and sometimes wrong since, even if the interpreter has a good understanding of both languages, he or she might not have the necessary domain of the subject to deliver the correct message (Kurbalija & Slavik, 2001).
Even though each country has its national language and an assortment of local languages spoken between people from different regions, English is considered the most useful one. English is accepted as the most important language, some authors going as far as comparing it with the importance of the Latin language (Ayo, 1996). Regardless of your mother tongue or where you are, the truth is, English is the universal language.
Negotiation has been around for as long as humankind has, and as the world has expanded, the use of diplomacy has become essential. Diplomacy is used by countries to work out problems, sign treaties, make alliances, and dynamize cultural exchange and economic relations. The vast scope of negotiations between nations is fundamental to maintain foreign affairs (Amacker, 2011).
When dealing with foreign affairs, diplomats need to know how their culture differs from the culture of the country with which they will be doing business. It is not always an easy task considering that when the negotiations are between various countries, each of their cultures needs to be taken into consideration so as not to disrespect anyone. Before negotiating with one country, diplomats familiarize themselves with the other country’s culture, but when it changes to a multilateral level, concepts become questionable, because of the many cultures present (Slavik, 2004).
Words are crucial for politics because of the power behind them. Languages are not only regarded as an instrument to communicate but also regarded as the core of diplomacy (Stanko, 2001). The central part of a diplomat’s work is to partake in negotiations, persuasions, and communication, for which a certain level of language skills is necessary. +
Boundaries are a hindrance and, at the same time, an opportunity for effective negotiation. They are used to establish, promote and compel the bargaining process; this is the phase of negotiating and adjusting (Meerts, 2015). Because of this, when people talk about good negotiation skills, they talk about the person’s ability to bargain. If there is a sense of reliability between the negotiators, the negotiation will be more prosperous, and so will be their business relationship.
Communication is not always effortless, especially when it is between different speaking parties. The most frequent obstacle to communication is language, which creates misunderstandings between those involved. In this case, bridges must be built to serve as a common ground in which both parties can interact to the best of their capabilities. Bridges between cultures are necessary because the world consists of different countries and the people living in each country have a collective identity that differentiates them from others (Slavik, 2004).
Despite the importance of communication in business, it is not always as effective as it should be. If there is no agreement between the parts for common ground, there are bound to be many obstacles that will damage the negotiation. Miscommunication can lead to such offense or uncertainty that it might jeopardize the strategic purpose (Norwich University, 2017).
Doing business is a daunting task, but it becomes even more troublesome when dealing with cultural aspects (Zhu, N.D). A representation of this is that some phrases commonly used in a country -in their language- can make no sense when translated, leaving the other party wondering how it was relevant to the negotiation, this might lead them to believe that you are not taking them nor the negotiation seriously. In today’s world, cross-cultural negotiations are inevitable, which is why it is essential to learn how to deal with them (Zhu, N.D).
Even though each country has its language, English is referred to as the world’s second language, which allows you to be a part of a worldwide conversation. Many countries have made the learning of the English language almost a necessity, due to the consent of its use as a bridge between people with different native languages. The role that the United States and Great Britain play in international business and politics has provided the acceptance and the rapid increase of English as the primary or secondary language spoken in many countries (Jenniferc, 2014).
English is not a daunting language to understand. It is simple and has elements from different cultures, which makes it easy for non-English speakers to associate with their native language. Contrary to other languages, English has uncomplicated grammar and no gender (Char, 2012).
Numerous English speakers are under the impression that everyone will understand what they are saying; they do not take into consideration that some words, even when translated, can have a completely different meaning or use in another language. When translating words from German, Dutch, Spanish, and many other languages into English, numerous of them have the same spelling but apply in different contexts (Day Translations, 2018). However, one of English’s best qualities is its flexibility; how you can explain the same things in varying ways due to its broad vocabulary, which increases the possibility of delivering the correct message.
Many people make it their life goal to learn English. The desire for this knowledge is because English has become a necessity in the workplace and a must for negotiations between people with different native tongues. With the knowledge of the English language come great opportunities (Walker, 2013).
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