English as a Global Lingua Franca: Intercultural Communication in Zimbabwean Business Set up

Precious Dube


With globalisation of the world, more and more people from different countries have begun to develop business in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's former" Look East" policy, which aimed at expanding bilateral and trade relations and offer priority to investors from  China, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, India, and Russia among other nations, has also expanded this global village. However, because of different cultural backgrounds, language, markets and social mores, these traders face many challenges and in trying to adjust themselves to new settings. This is mainly because; Zimbabwe is a multicultural and multilingual country with so many languages being spoken. English is the official language and Shona and Ndebele are national languages and therefore English has become the global lingua franca. Although some researchers hold that, English as a lingua franca is a neutral and culture-free tool (House 2002;2003). Others assert that, it carries the culture and language of its speakers ( Pölzl 2005 and  Klimpfinger, 2005). Recent linguistic discussions by ELF experts treat the interlocutors' cultural and linguistic background as a factor influencing language performance.  Generally speaking, ELF interactions concentrate on function rather than form. In other words, communicative efficiency (i.e. getting the message across) is more important than correctness (Cogo 2008). As a result, ELF interactions are very often tolerant with each other. Speakers accommodate each other's cultural backgrounds. They also use various verbal and nonverbal communication strategies in order to be able to communicate with each other. English as a language is therefore used as "a common means of communication for these speakers of different first languages"(Vienna Oxford). In English Lingua Franca (ELF) interactions, the importance lies on communication strategies other than nativeness, which can lead to communicative situations where those English native speakers who are not familiar with ELF and/or intercultural communication are at a disadvantage because they do not know how to use English appropriately in these situations (Hülmbauer 2008).Using the inter-language theory ,this paper would like to look at the changes taking place in the world system of languages because of the transformation of the English language into a Global Language. It also seeks to analyse communication strategies which are used by international business traders and the indigenous customers in Zimbabwe in a bid to communicate during their business transactions.

Key Terms: Global Lingua franca, Intercultural communication, Communication strategies, Inter-language, Culture, Nonverbal communication, International business traders, Indigenous customers National language Official language.

DOI: 10.7176/RHSS/9-24-05

Publication date: December 31st 2019

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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