Commentary on Louhiala-Salminen et al. (2005): Launching the notion of BELF

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Inspired by English as a Lingua Franca approach in linguistics, Louhiala-Salminen et al. (2005) introduced the notion of BELF (then called Business English Lingua Franca) in their article on internal communication between Finns and Swedes in two Nordic corporate mergers. It was a game changer in its approach to English as a professional tool getting the job done, while empowering internationally operating business practitioners and emancipating them from the role as failed native speakers. Using a mixed-methods approach with a survey and interviews on intercultural communication as well as meeting and email data enabled context-based findings on communicative practices: business was primary, linguistic correctness secondary. The notion of BELF has functioned as a springboard for empirical studies within (socio)linguistics, business/professional communication and even international management and has affected teaching and learning practices in various business schools. In the superdiverse business environment, avenues for further BELF studies are promising, exemplified by topics such as digitalized and virtual work contexts, developing business structures, translanguaging and multilingualism and ever more important issues of inclusion, diversity and power. Methodologies such as ethnography enabling close interaction with the everyday business practice are needed to understand where, why, and how interactions take place.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-148
Number of pages3
JournalEnglish for Specific Purposes
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeB1 Non-refereed journal articles


  • BELF
  • Competence
  • Corporate language
  • English as a business lingua franca
  • Global business
  • Multinational company


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