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The Language of Global SuccessHow a Common Tongue Transforms Multinational Organizations$
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Tsedal Neeley

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196121

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196121.001.0001

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The Lingua Franca Mandate

The Lingua Franca Mandate


(p.13) 1 The Lingua Franca Mandate
(p.iii) The Language of Global Success

Tsedal Neeley

Princeton University Press

This chapter sets the stage with the dramatic announcement by Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten, informing his 10,000 employees, of which over 7,100 are Japanese nationals, that from that day forward they would need to speak English in the workplace. In two years, they would be required to clear a proficiency test or risk demotion. This chapter introduces three employees who represent the categories that make up the core of the book. The first is Kenji, a Japanese engineer gripped by shock and fear that his years of hard work with the company will count for naught, who then receives the technical and emotional support to practice new English language skills. Next is Robert, a native English-speaking marketing manager from the United States, thrilled that the company is switching to his native language and who anticipates an easy career advance only to have his sense of privilege curtailed by new, daily work requirements, followed by a trip to Japan where his cultural blinders begin to loosen. Finally, there is the German IT technician, Inga, who is pleased by the announcement, who hopes it will streamline her work process—and learns that it does once she climbs the steep and often frustrating learning curve.

Keywords:   Hiroshi Mikitani, English, Englishinization, native language, cultural blinders, English proficiency

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