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9 - Language Economics and Language Rights

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

The relationship between language(s) and economics is a complex one. While it has been commonly held that linguistic homogeneity favors economic prosperity, a counter-argument suggests that multilingual capabilities may remove impediments to such prosperity: economic advantages may flow from bridging linguistic divides. Languages in contact are rarely of equal status, however, and some “small” varieties are particularly threatened today – most often, of course, by English. In a renewed and ecologically based attention to at-risk languages, the matter of rights has become central. After all, sustained and broadly accepted arguments for inherent language rights could put both speakers and their interactions with other communities on a stronger footing. My thesis here is that any meaningful support for language rights must be firmly grounded in law. Currently, this is very rarely the case and, therefore, much of the discussion about rights is really about claims to rights.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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