How Many Languages Do We Need?: The Economics of Linguistic Diversity

Princeton University Press
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In the global economy, linguistic diversity influences economic and political development as well as public policies in positive and negative ways. It leads to financial costs, communication barriers, divisions in national unity, and, in some extreme cases, conflicts and war--but it also produces benefits related to group and individual identity. What are the specific advantages and disadvantages of linguistic diversity and how does it influence social and economic progress? This book examines linguistic diversity as a global social phenomenon and considers what degree of linguistic variety might result in the greatest economic good.

Victor Ginsburgh and Shlomo Weber look at linguistic proximity between groups and between languages. They describe and use simple economic, linguistic, and statistical tools to measure diversity's impact on growth, development, trade, the quality of institutions, translation issues, voting patterns in multinational competitions, and the likelihood and intensity of civil conflicts. They address the choosing of core languages in a multilingual community, such as the European Union, and argue that although too many official languages might harm cohesiveness, efficiency, and communication, reducing their number brings about alienation and disenfranchisement of groups.


Demonstrating that the value and drawbacks of linguistic diversity are universal, How Many Languages Do We Need? suggests ways for designing appropriate linguistic policies for today's multilingual world.

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About the author

Victor Ginsburgh is professor of economics emeritus, member of the European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics, Brussels, and member of the Center of Operations Research and Econometrics, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Shlomo Weber is the Robert H. and Nancy Dedman Trustee Professor of Economics at Southern Methodist University and professor of economics at the New Economic School, Moscow.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Apr 4, 2011
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781400838905
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economics / Theory
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / General
Political Science / Globalization
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In this handbook, Victor Ginsburgh and Shlomo Weber bring together methodological, theoretical, and empirical studies in the economics of language in a single framework of linguistic diversity that reflects the history and contemporary study of the topic. The impact of linguistic diversity on economic outcomes and public policies has been studied not only by economists and other social scientists in the contemporary era, but all the way back to the 19th century by geographer and naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt, who emphasized the importance of language in the framework of cultural experience. This interdependence of language and culture is reflected in the chapters in this handbook, which have been written by leading economists, linguists, and political scientists from universities in the United States, Australia, Russia, Israel, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. The contributions are divided into four parts. Part I examines linguistic concepts that forge common ground between economists, political scientists, sociologists, and linguists, and introduces the notion of linguistic proximity extensively utilized in various chapters of the volume. Part II assesses the impact of languages on market interactions, including international trade, patent protection, migration, and use of languages in ancient and modern business environments. Part III focuses on the link between linguistic policies and economic development, including the analysis of regional development in Asia, Africa, Europe and Russia. Part IV addresses issues of globalization, minority languages, and the protection of linguistic rights in multilingual societies.
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