Should we all be speaking and writing Globish?

Globish,English,writing,blogging,Suzan St Maur,, How To Write BetterDo you think anyone who tries to simplify the English language so numerous cultures can use it and understand each other well, is nuts? Or a genius?

This was a question I asked when discussing Globish with my good friend and German teacher Angelika, and I decided to investigate further. Did I find a group of well-meaning academics trying to invent some sort of anglicized Esperanto? Not at all.

At the risk of doing myself out of a job, I think Globish makes a lot of sense as a slimmed-down, streamlined version of ordinary English that gives E2L** speakers a fighting chance of understanding
what the hell other Globish-English speakers are talking about.

“To many people, it sounds like a rather general concept without explicit rules, similar to Plain English, Special English, Simplified English, and all the other ways that native English speakers describe English that is not quite up to their standard,”  says David Hon, one of the Globish founders. “However, for hundreds of millions of people, Globish may become a standard English.”

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David Hon, co-founder of Globish

“The reason it may become a standard is that Globish-English has a much more specific meaning, and it has rules. Globish is the result of observations and codifications and writings of Jean-Paul Nerrière, a Frenchman. Nerrière’s career as an international marketing executive with IBM allowed him observe the use of this Globish-English first hand for 30 years. Then after 2000, when the French Academy became distraught over the number of English words invading their language, Nerrière wrote articles, and later books in French in 2004 and 2005, suggesting to the French that they learn this “English with Limitations” — this Globish — to use with the rest of the world. Learning just this Globish would allow the French to save their home language for use around the home fires, and in all the places that magnificent language still thrives.”

“This Globish form of English grew in recognition from Nerrière’s first publications in French, and even more in 2009 with the first book written entirely in Globish, Globish The World Over by Nerrière and David Hon. That book was translated side-by-side into numerous other languages, and Globish became the subject of articles in major newspapers and magazines across the world. “

Here is Jean-Paul Nerrière’s own explanation of Globish…

Globish works by refining English down to a basic list of just 1,500 words (plus direct derivatives). And much as I’m an arty-farty writer I always preach something very similar to people: fancy, long-winded writing that uses lots of long words no-one has ever heard of is a complete waste of time. So even for this reason alone, Globish makes sense to me.

Then, syntax is kept simple and basic. Sentences should average around 13 words and be no longer than 26 words.

Is it gobbledygook?

Here are two paragraphs, written by David Hon, entirely in Globish:

Very few native English speakers ever learn another language. Now, they must “learn” the Globish way to speak their own English, or the world will not be listening.  Strangely, they must now employ certain rules to make their Globish-English understandable.

Globish is a kind of English that all the world can use to talk with each other.  It is “enough” English to travel and to do business. It is very understandable because it has a simple set of rules. These rules make Globish-English easy to read, easy to listen to, and easy to learn.  Globish has the only set of rules: no one else publishes words and rules for this kind of limited – but correct – English. Thus Globish establishes a world standard.

Did you find that hard to understand? If you didn’t know it was Globish, would have figured out that it’s anything other than simple, plain English?

OK: now, for a translation

On the Globish website there is a fascinating option to run some text of your own through their Globish scanner and identify how it would work out in this new format. Here’s a paragraph from one of my articles on here last week…

No matter how absolutely fascinating your article is, the sad truth is your readers only have limited time to read yours and any others they find fascinating. You need to be aware of this and show your readers that you are, so they know that you respect their time constraints.

Now, what the Globish scanner had problems with (underlined)

No matter how absolutely fascinating your article is, the sad truth is your readers only have limited time to read yours and any others they find fascinating. You need to be aware of this and show your readers that you are, so they know that you respect their time constraints.

And how I re-wrote it to be in perfect Globish 

No matter how interesting your writing is, it is correct to say that your customers only have limited time to read yours and any others they find interesting. You need to know this and show your customers that you understand, so they know you respect their time limits.

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Now it’s your turn – run a short piece of yours through the Globish scanner and see how you score! I have posted the complete 1,500 words Globish vocabulary separately for you so you can check which alternative words to use.

And if you want to know more, I can send you the whole white paper of information David Hon sent me, as a PDF – just give me a shout on

In the meantime… what do you think of Globish? Please share your views!

**English as a Second Language

While you’re here, stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family…




  1. Interesting, and actually a lot better than I remembered from a conversation I had with my brother about it. It seems a nice way for foreigners to learn enough English to get by, but somebody who already has knowledge of ‘proper’ English should stick with that, as I do find the Globish text a bit boring.

    Oh, and I tried the scanner with a little text from my website. It highlighted a few words which I would (could) not change, but it’s nice to know that it’s still easy enough for non English speakers to read. Maybe not a bad idea to run our blogs though it every so often?!?


  1. […] to go with today’s article about Globish – a simplified version of English designed to help all cultures understand each […]