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


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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

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.


"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

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