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How Many Languages Do We Need?The Economics of Linguistic Diversity$
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Victor Ginsburgh and Shiomo Weber

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691136899

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691136899.001.0001

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Linguistic Policies, Disenfranchisement, and Standardization

Linguistic Policies, Disenfranchisement, and Standardization

(p.16) Chapter 2 Linguistic Policies, Disenfranchisement, and Standardization
How Many Languages Do We Need?

Victor Ginsburgh

Shlomo Weber

Princeton University Press

This chapter describes how linguistic policies have led to the alienation and disenfranchisement of various groups or individuals restricted in their linguistic rights. It starts with a brief tour of linguistic challenges faced by mankind since what is known as the curse of the Tower of Babel. To guarantee cohesiveness and efficiency in a society, some compromising on language standardization, rooted in Max Weber's rationalization theory, becomes an essential part of public policies. Though standardization is appealing, it may have the undesirable consequence of disenfranchising various groups in a society. The chapter discusses both facets and describes various examples of standardization policies, as well as their intended and unintended consequences. It argues that economic advantages of standardization are important, but the threat of survival and the feeling of disenfranchisement by those who face restrictions of their linguistic privileges, deemed to be rights, have to be taken into account. Respecting the will of the people is a necessary condition for any sustainable success of long-range policies in a democratic setting.

Keywords:   linguistic diversity, linguistic policy, disenfranchisement, language standardization, language policy

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