Language and Economy

Thematic Area D "Language and Economy" analyses the interplay between language and economy with a focus on the relationship between language, geographical mobility and New Economy growth patterns.

Summary Results

  • One LINEE study indicates that Vietnamese immigrants in the Czech Republic and African immigrants in Germany can neither exploit nor improve their multilingualism at work.
    >>> read article
  • A second study shows that multinational companies value English as a widespread language, but they also value local languages, especially if their customers use them.
    >>> read article
  • A third study shows that European courts do not allow prescriptions on language use (on product labels, for example) unless they see a good reason for it.
    >>> read article
  • Multinational companies do not insist on the use of a particular language, other than for the purposes of reporting. In general, the companies have a project-based and dynamic orientation towards the daughter companies.
    >>> read article
  • Vietnamese immigrants in the Czech Republic face a major stumbling block in their integration in the Czech society: their language. Almost every second of them speaks Vietnamese only. Little is done to change this situation. Another group of immigrants, Subsaharan Africans in Germany, face another difficulty: they struggle to find an adequate employment and their multilingualism is mostly worthless in Germany.
    >>> read article
  • In Vienna (Austria), Jersey (UK), Southampton (UK), Pula (Croatia) and Cheb (Czech Republic), the historical context strongly influences the contemporary situation regarding status and residency of ethnic minorities and migrants. Their knowledge of their own language, of the receptor language, and of other languages, can sometimes be a profitable economic factor, but often mitigating factors need to be taken into account.
    >>> read article


Research Area Report D

Second phase: Key findings "Language and Economy"

Research Area Report D

First phase: Key findings "Language and Economy"

LINEE Newsletter,
January 2010

Latest results on all thematic areas

LINEE-Newsletter, October 2009

Results of "Language and Economy", onging research and more

Description of Thematic Area D

A major objective in this Thematic Area is to analyse the interplay between language and economy and provide results that can impact the building of a knowledge-based society. The focus is on the relationship between language, geographical mobility and New Economy growth patterns. If we conceive of the economic order as a determining force in society, and if we take into account that the economy cannot do without language, then it follows that the economy has profound implications for language (its use and status, the emergence of lingua francas) in society. This is all the more true as the economy itself has shifted from the industrial age to a knowledge economy. Against this background, and in view of the ongoing shift of European society into a knowledge-based society which goes along with major changes in the sectors of European economy and the single market, it will be challenging to explore how the operational efficiency of the single market as an open labour market can be ensured in the face of barriers to labour mobility associated with language competence. The shift to the knowledge society is premised upon fundamental changes in the nature of the economy. These changes involve the shift away from neo-classical economics as the premise of theory and analysis, which also involves a shift from the industrial age to the knowledge economy. Given the way in which the economic order determines society, this has profound implications for language in society, and may involve a radical rethinking of the relationship between language and society. The knowledge economy develops on the background of two factors new technology and neo-liberalism. The development of state labour markets and the institutionalisation of state languages have gone hand in hand. States controlled the economy through internal labour markets that offered employment to citizens who used the state language, and state languages became the lingua franca for all citizens. The international nature of the capitalist economy resulted in the creation of multinational companies, which tended to use specific languages as lingua francas based on a few international languages, most notably English but including German, French, Russian inter alia to penetrate state labour markets. The relationship between these languages is by no means clear-cut, and there tends to be hierarchy within which two or more lingua francas (e.g. French and English may coexist in a diglossic context within firms and labour markets). Also, the theoretical and methodological approach here is necessarily based on interdisciplinary concepts and models. The design draws on concepts of the New Economy, theoretical and applied sociology, sociolinguistics including Language Management Theory, and contact linguistics focusing, in particular on migration, the status of languages, lingua francas and, in general, languages as socio-cultural or socio economic practice. In terms of methodology, the investigation involves qualitative and quantitative methods (ethnographic case studies and participant observation, semistructured and interaction interviews, questionnaires) and the establishment of a digital database (documentation of video & audio materials, transcripts and photos).

Overview of the new Workpackages

In the second 18 months of the project, the specific focus of each Work Package will be verified and if necessary adapted following an internal review process. Themes for the new series of research:


WP 10a (European Level)

Large multinational companies: Linguistic diversity and communication in parent and daughter companies

WP 11a (National Level)

Multilingualism, transcultural capital and social exclusion amongst migrant minority populations

WP 12a (Regional Level)

Economic participation, language practices and collective identities in the multilingual city