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The Economics of Language Policy$
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Michele Gazzola and Bengt-Arne Wickström

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034708

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034708.001.0001

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Economic Theory and Minority Language

Economic Theory and Minority Language

(p.203) 6 Economic Theory and Minority Language
The Economics of Language Policy

José Ramón Uriarte

Stefan Sperlich

The MIT Press

We seek to understand the strategic use bilinguals make of a minority language. We argue that bilinguals have linguistic preferences and face both linguistic coordination and communication optimization tasks. Further, we take into account that anonymous interactions are fairly frequent in present modern multilingual societies, making the linguistic type (bilingual or monolingual) private knowledge. To reach fast language coordination smoothness and communication effectiveness, bilinguals build linguistic conventions. The emergence of those conventions are shaped by the economizing laws and principles of least effort in human communication, politeness strategies, and other elements, all combined in a context of language contact. We show how the strategy hide your linguistic type may become popular among the bilinguals, and thus reduce the use of the minority language.

Keywords:   Minority language use, Language contact, Politeness strategy, Nash equilibrium

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