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The Economics of Language

Edited by the late Donald M. Lamberton, formerly Griffith University, Australia
The economics of language remains neglected territory. Language makes information operational. As a social technology, it is a resource of the symbolic species – some argue it defines the human species. Language affects ability to find employment; cultural identity, effective communication in business, international trade, and tourism; negotiations and settlement procedures; political activity; and conflict within and between nations.
Extent: 368 pp
Hardback Price: $196.00 Web: $176.40
Publication Date: 2002
ISBN: 978 1 84064 802 7
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Industrial Organisation
  • Methodology of Economics
The economics of language remains neglected territory. Language makes information operational. As a social technology, it is a resource of the symbolic species – some argue it defines the human species. Language affects ability to find employment; cultural identity, effective communication in business, international trade, and tourism; negotiations and settlement procedures; political activity; and conflict within and between nations.

Donald Lamberton, a leading scholar in the field, has selected key papers which address issues such as why some languages survive and others do not, the importance of language to the operation of a world-wide business, the problem of the language divide in economic development and the future of new language technologies such as telephone interpreting services, the internet and talking machines.

This authoritative collection of papers contributes, in the words of Jacob Marschak, to ‘the essential stuff of economics, in particular the economics of uncertainty that characterizes problems of human information, communication and organization’.
‘This book opens up many linguistic aspects of economics and shows in numerous ways how current research in this discipline is intimately related to that of communication.’
– Emile McAnany, Communication Research Trends

‘This reviewer found reading this anthology interesting and profitable.’
– L. Zgusta, American Reference Books Annual 2003

‘Don Lamberton has been a pioneer in several previously underdeveloped fields of economics – the economics of information, innovation and telecommunications – and his energy and enthusiasm has been instrumental in getting economists to give these the attention they deserve. In this edited book he has turned his attention to the economics of language. Economists have much to learn about the evolution of language and its role in economic development. In particular, a proper understanding of the economics of language is probably essential if the globalization project is to deliver benefits to all rather than just to some. This pioneering collection edited by Don Lamberton will help put us on the right track.’
– G.M. Peter Swann, University of Manchester, UK
20 articles, dating from 1965 to 2000
Contributors include: R. Backhouse, E. Lazear, J. LoBianco, J. Marschak, R. Marschan-Piekkari, G. Nunberg, J. Ryan, R. Selten, M. Snow, D. Welch, L. Welch
Contents:
Acknowledgements
Preface
Introduction Language: A Social Technology? Donald M. Lamberton
PART I THEORETICAL APPROACHES
1. Jacob Marschak (1965), ‘Economics of Language’
2. François Vaillancourt (1983), ‘The Economics of Language and Language Planning’
3. Reinhard Selten and Jonathan Pool (1991), ‘The Distribution of Foreign Language Skills as a Game Equilibrium’
4. François Grin (1992), ‘Towards a Threshold Theory of Minority Language Survival’
5. Jeffrey Church and Ian King (1993), ‘Bilingualism and Network Externalities’
6. Marcellus S. Snow (1998), ‘Economic, Statistical, and Linguistic Factors Affecting Success on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)’
7. Edward P. Lazear (1999), ‘Culture and Language’
PART II PROFITS AND WAGES
8. Pavel Pelikán (1969), ‘Language as a Limiting Factor for Centralization’
9. Nigel B.R. Reeves (1990), ‘The Foreign Language Needs of U.K.-Based Corporations’
10. Carol S. Fixman (1990), ‘The Foreign Language Needs of U.S.-Based Corporations’
11. Rebecca Marschan-Piekkari, Denice Welch and Lawrence Welch (1999), ‘In the Shadow: The Impact of Language on Structure, Power and Communication in the Multinational’
12. Barry R. Chiswick and Paul W. Miller (1995), ‘The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses’
PART III POLICY
13. Joseph Lo Bianco (1997), ‘English and Pluralistic Policies: The Case of Australia’
14. Mariel Tisdell (1998), ‘Socio-economic Aspects of Language Policies: An Australian Perspective’
PART IV TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS
15. Gordon B. Thompson (1977), ‘The World Turned Upside Down: Information Technology and the Linguistic Constraint’
16. Uldis Ozolins, Tom Pointon and Chris Doucouliagos (1999), ‘The Market for Telephone Interpreting Services in Australia’
17. (1998), ‘Word Perfected: Can Machines Talk? From Next Month They Will’
18. Joann P. Ryan (1992), ‘Machine Translation: Matching Reality to Expectations’
19. Geoffrey Nunberg (2000), ‘Will the Internet Always Speak English?’
PART V APPENDIX
20. Roger Backhouse, Tony Dudley-Evans and Willie Henderson (1993), ‘Exploring the Language and Rhetoric of Economics’
Name Index