Challenges of Minority Languages

  • François Grin


The economics of language can claim different lines of parentage in the discipline of economics. This chapter on the economics of minority languages espouses a specific view, put forward by the late Gary Becker, in his Economic Approach to Human Behavior (1976), according to which economics is characterized less by its subject matter than by its approach. Without necessarily endorsing the full range of assumptions and ideological tenets associated with Becker’s work, this approach opens the door to the application of economic analysis to a wide range of topics, including language-related ones.


Language Policy Linguistic Diversity Minority Language Language Activity Language Planning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. M. Abley (2003) Spoken Here: Travels among Threatened Languages (Boston/New York: Houghton Mifflin Co).Google Scholar
  2. D. Abrams and S. Strogatz (2003) ‘Modelling the Dynamics of Language Death’, Nature, 424, 900.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. A. Alarcón (2007) ‘Informationalism, Globalisation and Trilingualism: An Analysis of the Statistics of Linguistic Practices in Small and Medium Companies in Catalonia’, Noves SL,
  4. J. Ambrose and C. Williams (1981) ‘On the Spatial Definition of Minority: Scale as an Influence on the Geolinguistic Analysis of Welsh’ In E. Haugen (ed.) Minority Languages Today (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), 53–71.Google Scholar
  5. J.-C. Barbier (2012) ‘Une seule bannière linguistique pour une justice globale?’, Revue française de science politique, 62, 469–472.Google Scholar
  6. G. Becker (1965) ‘A Theory of the Allocation of Time’, The Economic Journal, 75, 493–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. G. Becker (1976) The Economic Approach to Human Behaviour (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).Google Scholar
  8. A.-C. Berthoud, F. Grin and G. Lüdi (eds) (2013) Exploring the Dynamics of Multilingualism (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins).Google Scholar
  9. E. Bialystok (2009) ‘Bilingualism: The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent’, Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12, 3–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. E. Bialystok and D. Shapero (2005) ‘Ambiguous Benefits: The Effect of Bilingualism on Reversing Ambiguous Fures’, Developmental Science, 8, 595–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. J. Blommaert and B. Rampton (eds) (2011) ‘Language and Superdiversities’, Theme Issue of Diversities, 13, 1–21.Google Scholar
  12. V. Borooah, D. Dineen and N. Lynch (2009) Language and Occupational Status: Linguistic Elitism in the Irish Labour Market (Dublin: Economic and Social Research Institute, Scholar
  13. A. Breton and P. Mieszkowski (1977) ‘The Economics of Bilingualism’ In W. Oates (ed.) The Political Economy of Fiscal Federalism (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books), 263–271.Google Scholar
  14. L.-J. Calvet (2004) Essais de linguistique. La langue est-elle une invention des linguistes? (Paris: Plon).Google Scholar
  15. I. Camartin (1989) Rien que des mots? Plaidoyer pour les langues mineures (Genève: Zoé) (originally published as Nichts als Worte? Ein Plädoyer für Kleinsprachen, Zürich: Artemis Verlag).Google Scholar
  16. A. Carli and U. Ammon (eds) (2007) Linguistic Inequality in Scientific Communication Today, Theme issue 20 of the AILA Review.Google Scholar
  17. J. Carr (1985) ‘Le bilinguisme au Canada: l’usage consacre-t-il l’anglais monopole naturel?’ In Vaillancourt F. (ed.) Economie et langue (Quebec: Conseil de la langue française, 27–37).Google Scholar
  18. X. Castelló, L. Loureiro-Porto, V. Eguíluz and M. San Miguel (2007) ‘The Fate of Bilingualism in a Model of Language Competition’ In S. Takahashi, J. Sallach, and Rouchier (eds) Advancing Social Simulation: The First World Congress (Tokyo: SpringerVerlag, 83–94).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. D. Chalmers (2003) ‘Economic Impact of Gaelic Arts and Culture’, PhD thesis, Glasgow: Caledonian University.Google Scholar
  20. B. Chiswick and P. Miller (1995) ‘The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses’, Journal of Labor Economics, 13, 246–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. B. Chiswick and P. Miller (2007) The Economics of Language: International Analyses (London: Routledge).Google Scholar
  22. J. Church and I. King (1993) ‘Bilingualism and Network Externalities’, Canadian Journal of Economics, 26, 337–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. K. Cordell and S. Wolff (eds) (2004) The Ethnopolitical Encyclopaedia of Europe (London: Palgrave Macmillan).Google Scholar
  24. H. De Schutter (2007) ‘Language Policy and Political Philosophy: On the Emerging Linguistic Justice Debate’, Language Problems and Language Planning, 31, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. A. De Swaan (2001) Words of the World, The Global Language System (Cambridge: Polity Press).Google Scholar
  26. J. Diamond (2012) The World Until Yesterday (London: Allen Lane).Google Scholar
  27. R. Dunbar (2006) ‘Is there a Duty to Legislate for Linguistic Minorities?’, Journal of Law and Society, 33, 181–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. U. Eco (1994) La recherche de la langue parfaite (Paris: Folio).Google Scholar
  29. J. Edwards (1994) Multilingualism (London: Routledge).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. J. Edwards (2012) Multilingualism: Understanding Linguistic Diversity (London: Continuum).Google Scholar
  31. FIONTAR Programme (2009) 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language. Report prepared for the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Dublin: FIONTAR Programme, Dublin City University, Scholar
  32. J. Fishman (1982) ‘Whorfianism of the Third Kind: Ethnolinguistic Diversity as a Worldwide Societal Asset’, Language and Society, 11, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. J. Fishman (1989) Language and Ethnicity in Minority Sociolinguistic Perspective (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters).Google Scholar
  34. J. Fishman (1991) Reversing Language Shift: Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Assistance to Threatened Languages (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters).Google Scholar
  35. J. Fishman (ed.) (2001) Can Threatened Languages Be Saved? (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters).Google Scholar
  36. J. Gabszewicz, V. Ginsburgh and S. Weber (2011) ‘Bilingualism and Communicative Benefits’, Annals of Economics and Statistics, 101/102, 271–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. M. Gazzola (2014) The Evaluation of Language Regimes: Theory and Application to Multilingual Patent Organisations. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  38. H. Giles, R. Bourhis and D. Taylor (1977) ‘Towards a Theory of Language in Intergroup Relations’ In H. Giles (ed.) Language, Ethnicity and Intergroup Relations (London: Academic Press), 307–348.Google Scholar
  39. V. Ginsburgh, J. Melitz and F. Toubal (2014) ‘Foreign Language Learning: An Econometric Analysis’, CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4923.Google Scholar
  40. V. Ginsburgh and J. Prieto-Rodriguez (2011) ‘Returns to Foreign Languages of Native Workers in the European Union’, Industrial and Labor Relations, 64, 599–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. V. Ginsburgh, S. Weber and S. Weyers (2011) ‘Economics of Literary Translation: A Simple Theory and Evidence’, Poetics, 39, 228–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. G. Grenier (1982) ‘Language as Human Capital: Theoretical Framework and Application to Spanish-Speaking Americans’, PhD Dissertation, University of Princeton.Google Scholar
  43. F. Grin (1990) ‘A Beckerian Approach to Language Use: Guidelines for Minority Language Policy’, Working Paper 0890, Centre de recherche et développement en économique (CRDE), University of Montreal.Google Scholar
  44. F. Grin (1992) ‘Towards a Threshold Theory of Minority Language Survival’, Kyklos, 45, 69–97 [reprinted in D. Lamberton (ed.) (2002) The Economics of Language (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar)].CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. F. Grin (1994a) ‘The Bilingual Advertising Decision’, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 15, 269–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. F. Grin (1994b) ‘L’identification des bénéfices de l’aménagement linguistique: la langue comme actif naturel’ In C. Phlipponneau and A. Boudreau (ed.) Sociolinguistique et aménagement des langues (Moncton: Centre de Recherche en Linguistique Appliquée).Google Scholar
  47. F. Grin (1996) ‘The Economics of Language: Survey, Assessment and Prospects’, International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 121, 17–44.Google Scholar
  48. F. Grin (2003a) ‘Language Planning and Economics’, Current Issues in Language Planning, 4, 1–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. F. Grin (2003b) Language Policy Evaluation and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (London: Palgrave Macmillan).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. F. Grin (2003c) ‘Diversity as Paradigm, Analytical Device, and Policy Goal’ In W. Kymlicka and A. Patten (eds) Language Rights and Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 169–188.Google Scholar
  51. F. Grin (2004a) ‘On the Costs of Cultural Diversity’ In P. Van Parijs (ed.) Cultural Diversity versus Economic Solidarity: Proceedings of the Seventh Francqui Colloquium (Brussels: De Boeck), 189–202.Google Scholar
  52. F. Grin (2004b) ‘L’anglais comme lingua franca: questions de coût et d’équité. Commentaire sur l’article de Philippe Van Parijs’, Économie publique, 15, 33–41.Google Scholar
  53. F. Grin (2005) L’enseignement des langues étrangères comme politique publique. Rapport au Haut Conseil de l’évaluation de l’école, Ministère de l’éducation nationale, Paris,
  54. F. Grin (2009) ‘Promoting Language through the Economy: Competing Paradigms’ In J. M. Kirk and D. P. Ó Baoill (eds) Language and Economic Development (Belfast: Queen’s University Press), 1–12.Google Scholar
  55. F. Grin (2013) ‘50 Years of Economics in Language Policy Critical Assessment and Priorities’, élf Working Paper 13, University of Geneva, Observatoire ÉLF, Scholar
  56. F. Grin and M. Gazzola (2013) ‘Assessing Efficiency and Fairness in Multilingual Communication’ In A.-C. Berthoud, F. Grin and G. Lüdi (eds) Exploring the Dynamics of Multilingualism (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins), 365–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. F. Grin, T. Moring, D. Gorter, J. Hägman, D. Ó Riagáin and M. Strubell (2002) Support for Minority Languages in Europe (Brussels: Report to the Directorate General for Education and Culture, European Commission, Scholar
  58. F. Grin, C. Sfreddo and F. Vaillancourt (2010) The Economics of the Multilingual Workplace (London/New York: Routledge).Google Scholar
  59. F. Grin and F. Vaillancourt (1998) ‘Language Revitalisation Policy: An Analytical Survey. Theoretical Framework, Policy Experience an Application to Te Reo Māori’, New Zealand Treasury Working Paper 98/06, Scholar
  60. F. Grin and F. Vaillancourt (1999) The Cost-Effectiveness Evaluation of Minority Language Policies: Case Studies on Wales, Ireland and The Basque Country. Monograph No. 2 (Flensburg: European Centre for Minority Issues).Google Scholar
  61. E. Haugen (ed.) (1981) Minority Languages Today (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press).Google Scholar
  62. A. Henley and R. Jones (2005) ‘Earnings and Linguistic Proficiency in a Bilingual Economy’, The Manchester School, 73, 300–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. T. Hočevar (1975) ‘Equilibria on Linguistic Minority Markets’, Kyklos, 28, 337–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. T. Hočevar (1983) ‘Les aspects économiques de la dynamique fonctionnelle des langues’, Language Problems and Language Planning, 7, 135–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. M. Hüning, U. Vogl and O. Moliner (eds) (2012) Standard Languages and Multilingualism in European History (Amsterdam: John Benjamins).Google Scholar
  66. N. Irriberi and J.-R. Uriarte (2012) ‘Minority Language and the Stability of Bilingual Equilibria’, Rationality and Society, 24, 442–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. E. Jones (2000) ‘The Case of a Shared World Language’ In M. Casson and A. Godley (eds) Cultural Factors in Economic Growth (Berlin: Springer), 210–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. A. Kharkhurin (2012) Multilingualism and Creativity (Bristol: Multilingual Matters).Google Scholar
  69. A. Krishna and R. Ahluwalia (2008) ‘Language Choice in Advertising to Bilinguals: Asymmetric Effects for Multinationals versus Local Firms’, Journal of Consumer Research, 35, 692–705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. W. Kymlicka (1995) Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights (Oxford: Clarendon Press).Google Scholar
  71. J. Laakso, A. Sarhimaa, S. Spiliopoulou Åkemark and R. Toivanen (2013) ELDIA. European Language Diversity for All. Summary of the Research Report (University of Vienna, Scholar
  72. E. La Ferrara (2004) ‘Solidarity in Heterogeneous Communities’ In P. Van Parijs (ed.) Cultural Diversity versus Economic Solidarity: Proceedings of the Seventh Francqui Colloquium (Brussels: De Boeck), 69–80.Google Scholar
  73. D. Laitin (2006) ‘Linguistic Nationalism as a Consumption Item’, paper presented at the ECORE Conference on ‘Challenges of Multilingual Societies’, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 9–10 June.Google Scholar
  74. H. Leibenstein (1976) Beyond Economic Man (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).Google Scholar
  75. S. Liebowitz and S. Margolis (1994) ‘Network Externality: An Uncommon Tragedy’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 8, 133–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. M. MacLeod (2009) ‘Gaelic Language Skills in the Workplace’ In J. Kirk and D. Ó Baoill (eds) Language and Economic Development: Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Scotland (Belfast: Cló Ollscoil na Banríona, Queen’s University Press), 134–152.Google Scholar
  77. S. Makoni and A. Pennycook (eds) (2007) Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters).Google Scholar
  78. M. Mateo Aierza (2004) ‘L’usage du basque dans les grandes entreprises de la communauté autonome basque’, in Secrétariat à la politique linguistique: Les pratiques linguistiques dans les entreprises à vocation internationale (Québec: Ministère de la culture et des communications), 55–66.Google Scholar
  79. S. May (2003) ‘Misconceiving Minority Language Rights: Implications for Liberal Political Theory’ In W. Kymlicka and A. Patten (eds) Language Rights and Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 123–152.Google Scholar
  80. S. May (2012) Language and Minority Rights: Ethnicity, Nationalism, and the Politics of Language, 2nd edn (New York: Routledge).Google Scholar
  81. T. Mayer (1993) Truth versus Precision in Economics (Aldershot: Edward Elgar).Google Scholar
  82. J. Mélitz (2007) ‘The Impact of English Dominance on Literature and Welfare’, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 64, 193–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. R. Michael (1972) The Effect of Education on Efficiency in Consumption (New York: Columbia University Press).Google Scholar
  84. L. Milligan, D. Chalmers and H. O’Donnell (2013) ‘What Can Gaelic Teach Us about Effective Policy through Planning? Strategies in Gaelic Language Planning’ In A.-C. Berthoud, F. Grin and G. Lüdi (eds) Exploring the Dynamics of Multilingualism (Amsterdam: John Benjamins), 121–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. J. Mira and Á. Paredes (2005) ‘Interlinguistic Similarity and Language Death Dynamics’, Europhysics Letters,
  86. A. Okrent (2009) In the Land of Invented Languages (New York: Spiegel & Grau).Google Scholar
  87. H. Patrinos and M. Hurst (2007) ‘Indigenous Language Skills and the Labor Market in a Developing Economy: Bolivia’ In B. Chiswick and P. Miller (eds) The Economics of Language: International Analyses (London: Routledge), 473–489.Google Scholar
  88. H. Patrinos and E. Velez (1996) ‘Costs and Benefits of Bilingual Education in Guatemala: A partial Analysis’, Human Capital Development Paper No. 74, The World Bank.Google Scholar
  89. A. Pennycook (2008) ‘Postmodernism in Language Policy’ In Thomas Ricento (ed.) An Introduction to Language Policy: Theory and Method (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing).Google Scholar
  90. R. Phillipson (2010) Linguistic Imperialism Continued (New York: Routledge).Google Scholar
  91. R. Phillipson and T. Skutnabb-Kangas (2013) Book Review of Martin-Jones, Marilyn, Adrian Blackledge and Angela Creese (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Multilingualism (London/New York: Routledge) TESOL Quarterly, 47, 657–659.Google Scholar
  92. C. Piron (1994) Le défi des langues. Du gâchis au bon sens (Paris: L’Harmattan).Google Scholar
  93. T. Pogge (2003) ‘Accommodation Rights for Hispanics in the United States’ In W. Kymlicka and A. Patten (eds) Language Rights and Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 105–122.Google Scholar
  94. J. Pool (1991) ‘The World Language Problem’, Rationality and Society, 3, 21–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. A. Portuese (2012) ‘Law and Economics of the European Multilingualism’, European Journal of Law and Economics, 34, 279–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. R. Selten (ed.) (1997) The Cost of European (Non) Communication (Roma: ERA).Google Scholar
  97. R. Selten and J. Pool (1990) ‘The Distribution of Foreign Language Skills as a Game Equilibrium’, Language and Society Papers, LD9, University of Washington, Seattle.Google Scholar
  98. A. Sen (1985) Commodities and Capabilities (Amsterdam: North Holland).Google Scholar
  99. T. Skutnabb-Kangas (2000) Linguistic Genocide in Education — Or Worldwide Diversity and Human Rights? (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum).Google Scholar
  100. F. Vaillancourt (1985) ‘Le choix de la langue de consommation’ In F. Vaillancourt (ed.) Economie et langue (Quebec: Conseil de la langue française), 209–220.Google Scholar
  101. F. Vaillancourt, R. Champagne and L. Lefebvre (1994) ‘L usage du français au travail par les francophones du Québec: une analyse économique’ In P. Martel and J. Maurais (eds) Langues et sociétés en contact (Tübingen, Schweiz: Niemeyer), 483–493.Google Scholar
  102. F. Vaillancourt and O. Coche (2009) Official Language Policies at the Federal Level in Canada: Costs and Benefits in 2006 (Vancouver: Fraser Institute).Google Scholar
  103. F. Vaillancourt, D. Lemay and L. Vaillancourt (2007) ‘Laggards No more: The Changed Socioeconomic Status of Francophones in Quebec’ C.D. Howe Institute Backgrounder No. 103.Google Scholar
  104. P. Van Parijs (2000) ‘The Ground Floor of the World: On the Socio-Economic Consequences of Linguistic Globalization’, International Political Science Review, 21, 217–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. P. Van Parijs (2011) Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World (Oxford: Oxford University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. J. Walsh (2009) ‘Ireland’s Socio-Economic Development and the Irish Language: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives’ In J. M. Kirk and D. P. Ó Baoill (eds) Language and Economic Development (Belfast: Queen’s University Press), 70–81.Google Scholar
  107. J. Watt and A. MacLeòid (2009) ‘Gaelic and Development in the Highlands & Islands of Scotland’ In J. M. Kirk and D. P. Ó Baoill (eds) Language and Economic Development (Belfast: Queen’s University Press), 117–129.Google Scholar
  108. C. Wheelan (2011) Introduction to Public Policy (New York/London: Norton).Google Scholar
  109. B.-A. Wickström (2005) ‘Can Bilingualism Be Dynamically Stable? A Simple Model of Language Choice’, Rationality and Society, 17, 81–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  110. A. Wierzbicka (2014) Imprisoned in English: The Hazards of English as a Default Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  111. C. Williams (ed.) (1988) Language in Geographic Context (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters).Google Scholar
  112. Y. Xie and M. Gough (2011) ‘Ethnic Enclaves and the Earnings of Migrants’, Demography, 48, 1293–1315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  113. M. Yaguello (2006) Les langues imaginaires. Mythes, utopies, fantasmes, chimères et fictions linguistiques (Paris: Seuil).Google Scholar
  114. W. Zhang and G. Grenier (2012) ‘How Can Language Be Linked to Economics? A Survey of Two Strands of Research’, Language Problems and Language Planning, 37, 203–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© François Grin 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • François Grin

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations