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English as a Global Language

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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 popular attachments to home languages, which is otherwise strong and apparent.

Suggested Citation

  • Melitz, Jacques, 2015. "English as a Global Language," SIRE Discussion Papers 2015-61, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  • Handle: RePEc:edn:sirdps:656
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10943/656
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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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    12. Jean Gabszewicz & Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2011. "Bilingualism and Communicative Benefits," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 101-102, pages 271-286.
    13. Foroutan, Faezeh & Pritchett, Lant, 1993. "Intra-sub-Saharan African Trade: Is It Too Little?," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 2(1), pages 74-105, May.
    14. Fidrmuc, Jan & Ginsburgh, Victor, 2007. "Languages in the European Union: The quest for equality and its cost," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 1351-1369, August.
    15. Melitz, Jacques, 2007. "The impact of English dominance on literature and welfare," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 193-215, October.
    16. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber & Sheila Weyers, 2011. "The economics of literary translation: Some theory and evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/151569, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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    18. Victor A. Ginsburgh & Juan Prieto-Rodriguez, 2011. "Returns to Foreign Languages of Native Workers in the European Union," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 64(3), pages 599-618, April.
    19. Melitz, Jacques, 2008. "Language and foreign trade," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 667-699, May.
    20. Francois, Patrick & van Ypersele, Tanguy, 2002. "On the protection of cultural goods," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 359-369, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Victor Ginsburgh & Jacques Melitz & Farid Toubal, 2014. "Foreign Language Learning : An Econometric Analysis," Working Papers 2014-21, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
    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.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

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