Language Use in Multinational Corporations: The Role of Special Languages and Corporate Idiolects

  • Susanne Tietze
  • Nigel Holden
  • Wilhelm Barner-Rasmussen


In this chapter we argue that multinational corporations (MNCs) can be understood from a language perspective; and in this we include national languages (e.g. English, Finnish, German, Japanese) as well as special languages (such as occupational vocabularies which we discuss fully below). We also take account of considerations of language as sociolects, which are context-specific applications of languages, where specialist discourses mingle with national languages in unique contexts-of-use. Together, these form the highly complex transnational business communication capital of MNCs. We bring a sense of order into this complexity through an attempt to develop a mental map of this language complexity in the MNC. Therefore, we draw on a metaphor by which we align the MNC to a metropolis, and we use in particular recent research located in Manchester, UK, where language diversity and its effects were studied. Thus, we propose that there exists a specific analogy between language usage and behaviour in cities and in MNCs. This at first glance unusual analogy will be exploited to create this mental map, whereby we attempt to capture myriad forms of languages and language use within the MNC, both in their local context and their international extension.


Language Skill International Business Language Policy Special Language Multinational Corporation 
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© Susanne Tietze, Nigel Holden and Wilhelm Barner-Rasmussen 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanne Tietze
  • Nigel Holden
  • Wilhelm Barner-Rasmussen

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