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1 - Do Linguists Need Economics and Economists Linguistics?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 March 2020

Cécile B. Vigouroux
Affiliation:
Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
Salikoko S. Mufwene
Affiliation:
University of Chicago
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Summary

In this chapter, we review how economists and linguists have problematized the relationship between economy and language, focusing on their methodologies, theoretical toolboxes, and ideologies. One of the striking differences lies in the ways they conceptualize languages, viz., as strictly denotational for economists but both denotational and indexical for linguists. We show that by approaching them as abstract, asocial, ahistorical, and statistically measurable entities, economists treat languages as resources whose economic consequences for individuals or societies can simply be derived from their intrinsic nature. By contrast, examining languages as practices grounded in their sociohistorical ecologies, linguists have been more interested in the valuation of some languages as capitals that can outweigh others economically or symbolically. Overall, we highlight the interdisciplinary nature of “economy and language” as a research area, showing how complex it is and how productive it should be to build an intellectual bridge between the two disciplines.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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