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Language Policy and Political EconomyEnglish in a Global Context$
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Thomas Ricento

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199363391

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199363391.001.0001

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The Ground Floor of the World: On the Socioeconomic Consequences of Linguistic Globalization

The Ground Floor of the World: On the Socioeconomic Consequences of Linguistic Globalization

(p.231) 10 The Ground Floor of the World: On the Socioeconomic Consequences of Linguistic Globalization
Language Policy and Political Economy

Philippe Van Parijs

Oxford University Press

As English emerges as the first worldwide lingua franca, countries whose native language is not English increasingly face the following dilemma: either they will have to lose their soul (by switching off the protection of their national language and culture) or they will have to lose their heart (by scaling down the redistributive component of their welfare state). This conclusion rests on the following premises, which the chapter presents and vindicates: (1) If weaker languages are to survive, the countries in which they are spoken will have to insist on the linguistic territoriality principle. (2) Plurilingual portfolios do now and increasingly will tend to include English. (3) If some area’s native language emerges as a world lingua franca and if the territoriality principle is in place elsewhere, the migration of the highly skilled will display a growing bias toward the lingua franca countries, here called for this reason the ground floor of the world. (4) If there is a significant asymmetric skill drain, then the other countries’ governments will have no real option but to reduce net taxation on high-skilled labor income. The chapter closes with a brief discussion of various conceivable strategies for avoiding, or at least softening the dilemma.

Keywords:   brain drain, linguistic diversity, minorities, welfare state, world lingua franca

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