linguistic follies

Christopher Thomas chthomas at
Sun Jul 29 06:50:40 UTC 2007

I agree that a great deal more reseach into this dimension of language policy 
is not just warranted but sorely needed, both within organizations and in the 
networks between organizations and the communities they serve. A global 
business language, while carrying a great deal of merit, is not a magic pill. 
Christopher Thomas
Educational Linguistics (Ph.D. candidate)
Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania

Quoting Don Osborn <dzo at>:

> Another aspect of this Economist article "Linguistic follies: The economic
> consequences of the rise of English"
> ( )
> bears mentioning. The following passage ...
> "English is all very well for globe-spanning deals, suggests Hugo
> Baetens Beardsmore, a Belgian academic and adviser on language policy
> to the European Commission. But across much of the continent, firms do
> the bulk of their business with their neighbours. Dutch firms need
> delivery drivers who can speak German to customers, and vice versa."
> ... has a logic concerning the importance of local languages that could be
> applied to other regions like subSaharan Africa, but has not been. Given the
> ways that first languages and local lingua francas are used in Africa, what
> has been the socio-economic cost of focusing so heavily on use of the former
> colonial languages (English, French, ...) in government, education,
> research/extension, etc.?
> That's a very simple question and I realize that the linguistic situations
> are complex. Nevertheless, I think I'm correct in saying that there has been
> little effort to explore the cost-benefit balance for African development of
> African language policies (of govts and development agencies). This language
> dimension is rarely considered in discussions of development in Africa, but
> might be a more important factor than is generally acknowledged.
> Don 

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