Divided by a common language
It’s a long-standing joke that the UK and the USA are divided by a common language. English is the third most widely-spoken language, with Chinese in its various forms topping the league table. But one statistic I found interesting from www.ethnologue.com is that it turns out that “389 (or nearly 6%) of the world’s languages have at least one million speakers and account for 94% of the world’s population. By contrast, the remaining 94% of languages are spoken by only 6% of the world’s people”.
Language is important for two reasons – communication, obviously, but also because speaking a language badges you as a member of a recognisable community.
In an article I wrote soon after joining APM I noted how I’d been struck by the “tribes” within the project management arena, and I’m inclined to believe that more often than not we each hide behind our favoured phrases, terms and definitions to emphasise our differences rather than our similarities.
As we are now at the drafting stage of the Body of Knowledge 6th edition, we are beginning to see that we need to face the challenge of language and terminology. APM’s glossary is well-known, but now might be the time to take forward APM’s suggestion to BSI of working towards a convergence of terms - to work towards a common glossary which would iron out the differences – sometimes real, sometimes imagined, I guess – between APM, the PRINCE2 “family”, BSI and so on. There is a danger that the endeavour could turn out to be as unrealisable as Casaubon’s “Key to all Mythologies”, in George Eliot’s Middlemarch, but I still think it’s worth APM - with the support of and input from all the other key players - taking the plunge.
Liz is head of professional standards and knowledge at APM.