Screw English, It's All About C

This month, Japanese online retailer Rakuten.com decided the language that was used internally by the company would no longer be Japanese.

By 2012, the company's official in-house language will be English. That would be mean all meetings would be conducted in English and all internal documents would be in English. English, English, English!

Rakuten has been making the transition to an English working environment by doing things like putting the menus in its staff cafeteria in English.

Earlier this month, Rakuten president Hiroshi Mikitani gave a press conference (in English) detailing the company's intentions and pointed out that English is widely used in cyberspace. Rakuten aims to have overseas business account for 70 percent of its transactions conducted through its online shopping sites, reports website Japan Today.

Square Enix president Yoichi Wada has chimed in on this - with a joke. Square Enix, best known for its Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy games, currently uses Japanese as its in-house language.

"Instead of making English in-house language," Wada joked, "I'm going to make it the C programming language!"

while(YOICHI_WADA_IDEA != GOOD) {

NEXT_GAME = randomize(FINAL_FANTASY, KINGDOM_HEARTS, FIRST_PERSON_SHOOTER);

}

Wada is not entirely being serious, but there is a push for Japanese companies to use English as their corporate language. Since Square Enix recently acquired European developer Eidos, which is now Square Enix Europe, one wonders if there isn't such a push at Square Enix.

Sony was one of the first companies to do this in its bid to become a truly international corporation. That doesn't mean that Japanese disappears. Take a look at the Japanese Sony Computer Entertainment website and see...Japanese. (There's also an English page!) By what English does do is provide an easier and smoother entrance for Japanese companies onto the world's stage.

This move by Japanese companies echoes what a handful of Japanese educators and bureaucrats said in the late 19th century: That Japan should abandon Japanese and use English as its official language to become truly international. This, of course, will not happen. Language is embedded in Japanese culture, and it is embedded in Japanese business culture as well. Even if English is the official language corporate language, Japanese won't disappear. Too many people speak it, too many writers write it and too many little kids are learning it.

What it will do is give Rakuten a way into the international market just as it has given Sony.

スクエニ和田社長「社内公用語を英語にするくらいならC言語にしてやる!!」 [オレ的ゲーム速報@刃 Thanks for the C, Jason!]


Comments

    Japan can't adopt English as it's national language, otherwise where would we get our poorly overdubbed anime from?

      Korea!

      Don't worry, I'm sure it'd still be dubbed by Americans, just like how ads on TV for things like cleaning products are dubbed in Australian here.

        hahahahaha!!!!

        i flippin HATE those ads - all of them!!!

        They just look and sound so... lame...

        Especially the makeup and hair care ones...

      Perhaps the subtitles will be poorly scripted to japanese from english?

      From Japan, of course, they'll just do the scripting in-house, resulting in extra entertainment.

    Hmm, Japanese is one of the last really strong languages, mostly due to it's huge global influence with it's pop culture (anime and manga).

    I predict that in 100 years or so, the only languages that will be spoken will be English and Chinese

      Lol Firefly :)

    I never understand this argument... if there's only Japanese speaking people at the meeting why speak English? It makes sense to speak everyone's first language doesn't it?

    I know if you told me that everything I had to do in my degree had to be in Japanese it would take me approximately 10 times longer to do everything as I would have to try to understand what I need to do and then try to figure out how to give you a logic reply to that request. I'd be in Uni for a decade... surely they don't want to slow employees down... right?

      I did some work for ISO in Switzerland a few years ago. Their official corporate language is English. The majority of employees there are either French, German, Italian, or Swiss.

      Everyone there spoke their own languages. They only spoke English when they were speaking to someone that didn't understand their language.

      All official documents were written in English.

      If you want to work there you have to be bi-lingual. Many people there knew more than two languages. This is because they deal with so many countries.

      Rakuten.com wishes to deal in an international market and so need to adopt an international language.

      I don't think Rakuten.com will force all communications to be in English. Only the official documents and presentations need to be. Meetings would be conducted in English only when they need to accommodate non-Japanese people attending the meeting.

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