Viv Edwards
University of Reading

The economics of minority languages

Economics has important implications for minority languages. One of the most powerful determinants, for instance, of whether parents decide to transmit minority languages is their perception of their usefulness in terms of career prospects for their children. Similarly, parents may have doubts about the viability of minority language education: resources are more plentiful – and often more attractive – in languages of wider communication. A number of developments, including increased political support and trans-national cooperation, are, however, beginning to shape more positive attitudes towards both the economic usefulness and viability of minority languages. This presentation will examine two examples of language marketing: the ‘Twf ‘project in Wales which promotes the value of bilingualism to parents; and language advocacy in South Africa as part of the implementation of the official policy of bilingualism. It will also explore a co-publishing effort involving Basque,
Frisian, Irish, IsiXhosa and Welsh which addresses the problem of how to produce high quality books for children in minority languages at an affordable price.