How Many Languages Do We Need?: The Economics of Linguistic Diversity [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...

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

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Choice
This is a good book—clear, comprehensive, and easy to read. Ginsburgh and Weber cover several topics, including linguistic policies, diversity and standardization, economic costs and benefits, and multilingualism as a source of conflict and sometimes war.
Journal of Economic History
[V]ery few books have been written on the economics of linguistic diversity, and this book takes a valuable step towards remedying this situation. It offers a nice nontechnical overview of the field, and has something interesting to offer to economists, sociologists, and linguists interested in linguistic diversity, language policy, and their implications.
— Isabelle Sin
Journal of Regional Science
In sum, their book is a fascinating, thought-provoking introduction to a large body of work at the frontier of a new, exciting area of economic research, which includes not only the economics of linguistic diversity, but, more generally, the economics of culture and institutions.
— Enrico Spolaore
Journal of Economic Issues
[T]his book makes a welcome contribution by providing a simple and succinct presentation of an otherwise complex interdisciplinary problem. In comparison to much of the Economics literature, it provides a far more nuanced picture of linguistic diversity and the associated policy challenges.
— Vikas Kumar
Times Literary Supplement
In their intriguing book How Many Languages Do We Need?, Victor Ginsburgh and Shlomo Weber illuminate how language diversity affects growth, trade and economic development.
— David Throsby
Times Literary Supplement - David Throsby
In their intriguing book How Many Languages Do We Need?, Victor Ginsburgh and Shlomo Weber illuminate how language diversity affects growth, trade and economic development.
Journal of Economic History - Isabelle Sin
[V]ery few books have been written on the economics of linguistic diversity, and this book takes a valuable step towards remedying this situation. It offers a nice nontechnical overview of the field, and has something interesting to offer to economists, sociologists, and linguists interested in linguistic diversity, language policy, and their implications.
Journal of Regional Science - Enrico Spolaore
In sum, their book is a fascinating, thought-provoking introduction to a large body of work at the frontier of a new, exciting area of economic research, which includes not only the economics of linguistic diversity, but, more generally, the economics of culture and institutions.
Journal of Economic Issues - Vikas Kumar
[T]his book makes a welcome contribution by providing a simple and succinct presentation of an otherwise complex interdisciplinary problem. In comparison to much of the Economics literature, it provides a far more nuanced picture of linguistic diversity and the associated policy challenges.
From the Publisher

"In their intriguing book How Many Languages Do We Need?, Victor Ginsburgh and Shlomo Weber illuminate how language diversity affects growth, trade and economic development."--David Throsby, Times Literary Supplement

"This is a good book--clear, comprehensive, and easy to read. Ginsburgh and Weber cover several topics, including linguistic policies, diversity and standardization, economic costs and benefits, and multilingualism as a source of conflict and sometimes war."--Choice

"[V]ery few books have been written on the economics of linguistic diversity, and this book takes a valuable step towards remedying this situation. It offers a nice nontechnical overview of the field, and has something interesting to offer to economists, sociologists, and linguists interested in linguistic diversity, language policy, and their implications."--Isabelle Sin, Journal of Economic History

"In sum, their book is a fascinating, thought-provoking introduction to a large body of work at the frontier of a new, exciting area of economic research, which includes not only the economics of linguistic diversity, but, more generally, the economics of culture and institutions."--Enrico Spolaore, Journal of Regional Science

"[T]his book makes a welcome contribution by providing a simple and succinct presentation of an otherwise complex interdisciplinary problem. In comparison to much of the Economics literature, it provides a far more nuanced picture of linguistic diversity and the associated policy challenges."--Vikas Kumar, Journal of Economic Issues

"This is an essential book for all the policymakers, linguists, and language ideologues who will not understand the mathematics of the economists' calculations."--Anthony Pym, European Legacy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400838905
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/4/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Course Book
  • Pages: 256
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet 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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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
Chapter 1: My Language IsMy Homeland 7

Chapter 2: Linguistic Policies, Disenfranchisement, and Standardization 16
1. Linguistic Diversity: A Brief Look at the Past 16
2. Linguistic Standardization: Roots, Benefits, and Some Examples 18
3. Some Painful Aspects of Standardization 21
4. HowMany Languages: IsMore theMerrier, or Is Small Beautiful? 26
5. Summary 28

Chapter 3: Linguistic, Genetic, and Cultural Distances: How Far Is Nostratic? 29
1. Languages and Dialects 30
2. Distances between Languages 33
3. Distances between Groups 48
4. Summary 55

Chapter 4: DistancesMatter 56
1. International Trade 57
2. Migrations 63
3. Literary Translations 65
4. The Eurovision Song Contest: Is Voting Political or Cultural? 74
5. Summary 82

Chapter 5: Individual Communicative Benefits 84
1. Modeling Language Learning 86
2. Demand Functions for Languages 93
3. Private Returns on Languages 98
4. Summary 107

Chapter 6: Diversity and Disenfranchisement Indices 108
1. Fractionalization and Polarization Indices 110
2. Disenfranchisement Indices 126
3. Links between Fractionalization, Disenfranchisement, and Communication Indices 137
4. Summary 139
5. Appendix: Numerical Calculation of the Various Disenfranchisement Indices 140

Chapter 7: Diversity and Disenfranchisement: Applications 142
1. Fractionalization and Polarization Indices 143
2. Disenfranchisement Indices: The Example of the EU 151
3. Summary 160

Chapter 8: Multilingualism in the European Union: A Case Study in Linguistic Policy 162
1. Twenty-three Languages, and More to Come 162
2. Possible Solutions 177
3. Summary 199

Conclusions 201
Bibliography 205
Index 223

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