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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 Economics of English in Europe

The Economics of English in Europe

(p.119) 5 The Economics of English in Europe
Language Policy and Political Economy

François Grin

Oxford University Press

The economics of English constitute a special case, whether in general or in the European context. This chapter briefly reviews the field of “language economics” and discusses the implications of investigating the economics of a given language, as opposed to the economics of multilingualism or language in general. It then turns to the case of English, starting with the question of resource allocation, or “efficiency”. The data shows that learning English as a foreign language is a profitable investment, although other languages are equally useful and valuable on the labor market. English, therefore, cannot be construed as a “basic skill.” The chapter then addresses resource distribution, or “fairness”, showing that linguistic dominance (or hegemony) gives rise to considerable economic transfers, thus raising serious issues of linguistic justice. The concluding section discusses policy implications, in relation to the broader question of the respective values of linguistic uniformity and diversity.

Keywords:   economics of language, rates of return, efficiency, fairness, language policy, evaluation

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