Language is a cost

Lost in translation: Mary Rose's demise blamed on multilingual crew

By Andy McSmith

Friday, 1 August 2008



Researchers from the University College London claim their research suggests that the Mary Rose (19 July 1545) sunk not because of French cannon fire, but because the crew did not understand the instructions of the English officer. The researchers believe that they have evidence that suggests that a large number of the crew were non-English speakers, maybe Spanish speakers, but certainly Southern European.


Language is indeed a material factor in business and other walks of life. I wonder whether there is a paradox here. It seems that when we communicate using the same language things might just work normally. If, however, we did not have a language in common, the consequences of a mistakes or misunderstanding might be more serious than the benefits of understanding each other. It seems that language is a cost factor for maintaining a state of equilibrium, but failure to pay this cost might result in disproportionate negative consequences.

Bottom Line

Language is a necessary cost, but not sufficient for stability in business.

Tags: translation, language, crew, navy, misunderstanding


The Mary Rose [Trust]:

Mary Rose. (2008, August 6). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:16, August 13, 2008, from

1 comment:

Pat & Bill said...

I think the case for Esperanto is given here.

Take a look at