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English as a global language

Author

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  • Melitz, Jacques

Abstract

How far has English already spread? How much further can we expect it to go? In response to the first question, this chapter tries to identify the areas of life where English already serves as a lingua franca in the world (more or less) and those where the language faces sharp competition and does not threaten to marginalize the other major languages. The former areas of life are international safety, the internal business of international organizations, internal communication within the international news industry, international sports and science. The latter areas are the press, television, the internet, publishing and international trade. As to the second question, about the future prospects of English, the chapter argues that the advance of English will depend heavily on the motives to learn the other major languages in the world as well. Based on the empirical evidence, the same model applies to the incentives to learn English and these other languages. On the important topic of welfare, the cultural market is the single one where it is arguable that the progress of English has gone too far. English dominance in the song, the cinema and the best-seller is indeed extraordinary and difficult to reconcile with the evidence of strong popular attachments to home languages, which is otherwise apparent.

Suggested Citation

  • Melitz, Jacques, 2014. "English as a global language," CEPR Discussion Papers 10102, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10102
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Melitz, Jacques & Toubal, Farid, 2014. "Native language, spoken language, translation and trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 351-363.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Fidrmuc & Jarko Fidrmuc, 2016. "Foreign languages and trade: evidence from a natural experiment," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 31-49, February.
    2. Jan Fidrmuc & Jarko Fidrmuc, 2016. "Foreign languages and trade: evidence from a natural experiment," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 31-49, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    English; language; publishing; trade; welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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