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Words of the World: The Global Language System / Edition 1

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This bold and accessible study of human languages and communication explores issues which are at the forefront of today's globalized society.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Abram de Swaan is the world's leading political sociologist of language. He has a profound knowledge of the complex history interlinking states and languages and an equally acute understanding of individual incentives to learn languages. Here he applies his insights and methods – with surprising results — to globalization and its implications for the survival of world languages. Words of the World is both a pleasure to read and a remarkable contribution to political sociology." Professor David Laitin, Stanford University

" Swaan's view is original and rich to the extent that it sheds new light on this problem...De Swaan's analysis is definitely new and fruitful for an understanding of the relations of power and language" Anais Bokobza, European University Institute, Florence, Italy

"De Swaan's study is an impressive tour de force; it presents an original and refreshing social science perspective, is rich in empirical detail, rigorous in its theoretical elaboration, and written in an elegant and accessible style: a path-breaking study of language change and human communication in an age of globalisation." Johan Heilbron, Multilingual Matters

"...this book is an important contribution to our understanding of the relationship among languages of the world in the era of globalisation. It is a good addition to the growing body of texts used in increasingly popular courses on 'World English(es)'. Alamin Mazuri, The Ohio State University, USA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745627472
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Abram de Swaan is Chairman of the Amsterdam School of Social Research (ASSR) at the University of Amsterdam.

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Table of Contents

1.1 The global language system: a galaxy of languages 4
1.2 A historical atlas of the world as a language system 6
1.3 Supercentral constellations in the present language system 11
1.4 Scope and approach of this book 17
1.5 Plan of the book 20
2.1 Languages as 'hypercollective goods' 27
2.2 The communication potential of a language: the Q-value 33
3.1 Texts as commodities in international exchange 42
3.2 Protectionism and free trade in cultural exchange 47
3.3 Monoglossia, polyglossia and heteroglossia 53
4.1 Characterization of the Indian constellation 61
4.2 State formation, nation-building and language unification 63
4.3 The vicissitudes of language policy in India 69
5.1 Gandhi's dream 81
5.2 The rise of Malay 83
5.3 The demise of Dutch 86
5.4 The rejection of Javanese 90
6.1 A two-by-three comparison 99
6.2 Three francophone constellations south of the Sahara 102
6.3 Three English-centred constellations south of the Sahara 116
7.1 The language regime under Apartheid 128
7.2 Language policy after Apartheid 132
7.3 The dynamics of the constellation 136
8.1 Civil Europe (1): language unification in national constellations 146
8.2 Civil Europe (2): Q-values in the European Union 151
8.3 Institutional Europe (1): the public level 166
8.4 Institutional Europe (2): the bureaucracy 171
9.1 Conclusions 177
9.2 Considerations 187
Notes 194
References 225
Index 244
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