Chapter in:Advances in Interdisciplinary Language Policy
Edited by François Grin, László Marácz and Nike K. Pokorn
[Studies in World Language Problems 9] 2022
► pp. 532–553
Does global English influence the perception of professional ethical dilemmas?
For many multilinguals, the use of a given language is specific to certain areas of life, such as family, social or professional life. This may mean that, for a given person, lexical precision does not imply fluency, and vice-versa. Therefore, having a certain type of skills in a second language does not guarantee a successful use of this second language in all circumstances. This may be especially true with respect to emotional versus factual communication and contents. When a language normally only employed for factual communication is used to express emotional content, the level of precision or understanding may suffer. This research asks the following question: does the use of Global English in the workplace affects the alertness of non-native English speakers in perceiving ethical dilemmas? The hypothesis we explore is that non-native English-speaking employees of organisations in which Global English is the main communication tool, or one of them, may suffer from such communicational, or linguistic, asymmetry, as defined in the paper. In doing so, this study contributes to the ‘Global English’ research agenda and examines the consequences of the use of English. Our statistical results suggest that the importance of linguistic asymmetry becomes acute in situations where ethical issues – with their blend of emotional and technical aspects – emerge in contexts in which otherwise only professional, i.e. factual and technical, contents prevail. The linguistic asymmetry may impair the level of ethical alertness of non-native English-speakers working in organisations where English dominates.