I Speak Google

Language is essential to communication. More than that, language defines us! If there is one golden rule surrounding languages, it's that we should only translate into our native tongue. Communication between languages and professions is essential and should be encouraged to maintain and broaden understanding from all perspectives.

Native tongues, a beginning

Minted in 1960, and with the help of Deloitte for over a decade of induction into not only the languages of business, IT and Marketing, but also the subtleties and responsibilities that accompany these roles. It is often said that growing up in a multi-lingual household offers the best chance to learn fluency. It's certainly true at Deloitte where communication across functions is both expected and encouraged; fluency from technical detail to high level overview across IT, Marketing, Accounting (insolvency, forensic and corporate finance) and the many aspects that make up a vibrant professional ecosystem delivering expected outcomes. Business and IT speak is just as detailed, interesting, convoluted, complex and contradictory as language, a personal view of which follows.

Born to a Welsh father, English mother (whose parents came from Newcastle), living in cosmopolitan London where a wide diversity of languages and cultures make living interesting and worthwhile.


Like many of my fellow native English speaking residents of the UK growing up in the 70's I chose to learn French at school. Although interested and committed, improving fluency was aided by working in Paris for a while, though as almost everyone there spoke such good English and my French was merely adequate this needed more work. Fortunately there were serendipitous moments, a local Chinese shopkeeper preferred to converse in French, he was truly helpful, understanding, and so French!

Opportunities lost

Despite having avidly read the Hobbit and Lord of The Rings and was pleasantly surprised when Peter Jackson's trilogy came out a few years back bringing the memory of the book faithfully to life again, Tolkien's Westron although appealing somehow never sparked enough interest to follow that language through. Like many Star Trek fans, I always hoped that Klingon would take off, though thankfully I can remember few of the phrases I may have once recited.

There is a warmth for Gujarati partly because it was spoken by many of my school and later life friends, but also the warmth, conviviality and generosity of my friends, interestingly it is the only language I learnt verbally though despite having and still dipping into Learn Gujarati in 30 Days by NSR Ganathe am still unable to read or write. Although not intentional, after relocating from Ealing where Gujarati is still spoken in nearby Alperton, to Morden near Tooting where many of the descendants have also relocated, I find myself still buying fresh vegetables mentally using their Gujarati names from a branch of the same shop as before, no doubt if I were to speak aloud, I might sound like one.

Fun as well as a desire to understand the things around me brought Latin to life, with ample examples in current usage, much of my culture has grown from the understanding of the world through Latin speakers. I still take a pocket dictionary to enlighten my travels, for me at least a still truly useful Lingua franca.

Perhaps due to my own interest in calligraphy - the characters certainly have beauty, perhaps also wanting a glimpse into those cryptic logograms and a window into their culture, I have tried to learn Mandarin, and although it may get better with use, alas I have made few opportunities and thus have hardly progressed beyond 你好.

Opportunities gained

Learning languages, like most things in life is accomplished much more easily if done early.  It is probably because I have a natural affinity with computer languages including VB, C and SQL, often working in/with marketing, forensic accounting, insolvency and corporate finance departments where a clear and determined focus, plus 'getting things done' that my abilities grew in the areas I was both interested in and found myself spending the most time on. Fluency in various business and computing disciplines is a strong influence on success as communicating between divergent communities at all levels, and delivering usable tools to professionals is an essential part of delivering change. Although originally from a proprietary computer language background, I find myself increasingly benefiting from and preferring the culture, diversity and professionalism of open source communities.

It should not have been a surprise therefore that on counting the number of Google bookmarks in my browser that I find I have thirty six, a good dozen of which I use regularly. There may be something to do with Google familiarity, though I suspect that as I frequently use their tools and services to complete my daily tasks, that they are genuinely useful and thus are there because they form an essential part of my tool-kit. Only after assessing the importance of and counting the variety of services from AdWords via Developers and apis to Webmaster tools that I realise how useful Google can be to my work and social life, I am also truly grateful that they have single sign on. Being fluent in these disparate tools and technologies brings home the realisation that now, finally, adding to the many in which I'm already flutent, I Speak Google too!

Opportunities still to come

The only constant is change, it's the Pace that accelerates!

Like a fast flowing river, what was once future, has either arrived, disappeared or passed into history with new ones hurtling ever faster towards us. Technical languages such as SQL have remained largely static because they do one job and do it very well, users of others such as visual basic have transitioned into dotnet and C#; Guido van Rossum  conceived Python in the 1980's from 'ABC' and as of 2016 is the fifth most popular computer language. No doubt the future will bring new languages to realise emerging opportunities.

What new language will you add next?

Alan Hicks
Persistent Objects Ltd