• San Diego, Calif.

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Some praise Rakuten for displaying ambitions in expanding globally and others criticize the move to English as ineffective from a human resource perspective, but no one seems to have considered its plan from a socio-cultural perspective.

When we simply use English as a global tool for business communication, we keep it straightforward and completely devoid of cultural factors that may confuse the nonnative English speaker. But by requiring all casual in-house chats to be conducted entirely in English, Rakuten is attempting to use English as a cultural communication tool as well as a business one. Yet, English cannot clearly represent non-Western cultural concepts, so its exclusive use in a non-English setting will only lead to the wrong cultural nuances, even if fluent English is being spoken and written.

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