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OtherWise by Dick Martin

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20We Are What We Speak

English is the undisputed lingua franca of international business. It is the official language of companies as diverse as Sony of Japan, Nestlé of Switzerland, Siemens of Germany, and Alcatel-Lucent of France. And even though most multinational companies make it a practice to hire local nationals, communications with head-quarters—and often within the ranks of higher-level local managers—are often in English.

One would assume, then, that foreign language acquisition would rank pretty low on the requirements for being OtherWise. Indeed, a U.S. Department of State administrator once remarked: “Selecting, training, and promoting Foreign Service officers on the basis of foreign language skill is a little like picking chorus ...

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