Part of the Language and Globalization book series (LAGL)


The impact of the city on language is varied; it is often far-reaching and is, occasionally, revolutionary. One example of the impact of urbanisation on language is the relationship between the appearance of the first cities in the world and the independent innovation of writing in a number of different parts of the globe — Mesoamerica, Ancient Egypt, Sumeria and China. Then, in the European context for the first time, the evolution of writing, literature, philosophy and the full range of language-centred activity associated with the rise of the city-state in Ancient and Classical Greece. In the contemporary world, the city is becoming increasingly important in economic, political, social hand economic terms, in particular due to the specific nature of the current form of globalisation. Their significance may be measured simply in terms of population. For example, Castells noted in 1996 that there were 13 cities in the world with populations in excess of 10 million people and that before long there would be a number of cities with populations of over 20 million (Castells, 1996). Also, the United Nations (UN) recently estimated that the majority of the world population, for the first time in history, will be living in urban centres by the end of this decade (UN, 1999 & 2001). More recently, in 2004, it was calculated that there were 20 cities in the world with a population in excess of 10 million (15 of which were located in the so-called developing world) and that by the year 2015 there will be over 20 cities with a population in excess of 10 million, comprising around 5% of the total world population (UNPF, 2004).


United Nations Linguistic Diversity Minority Language Urban Context Contemporary World 
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Copyright information

© Diarmait Mac Giolla Chríost 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of WelshCardiff UniversityUK

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