The value of language: concept, perspectives, and policies

Krishna S. Dhir (Berry College, Mount Berry, Georgia, USA)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Publication date: 1 December 2005

Abstract

Purpose

Three distinct trends are evolving that characterize the challenges facing corporate planners in managing language as a corporate asset. These are the evolution of the knowledge economy, the globalization of business and economy, and the increasing diversity of the workforce. These trends call for attention to the role language plays in the creation of intellectual and organizational capital. Linguists have been hampered by their inability to model how linguistic conditions affect economic processes. They have long attempted to assess the economic value of language as a commodity, but with little success. The purpose of this article is to describe language as an asset, and argue that recent advances in decision sciences have sufficiently removed the deficit in theoretical and empirical research that challenged the linguists.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing an analogy between language and currency, this article identifies the functions that language must perform in terms of exchange, accounting and storage of information, knowledge and know‐how.

Findings

Factors that contribute to the value of a language are discussed through comparative analysis of these functions from the perspectives of linguists, economists and decision analysts. Based on the Social Judgment Theory, the article develops a judgment‐analytic framework for the assessment of the value of a language.

Practical implications

Concluding that the corporate and community planning perspectives are divergent, the paper identifies the direction for future research to inform formulation of language policies. The value of a language may be affected by the degree to which the language is used in the demographic community defining an organization's strategic environment, the investment in the language relative to other available languages, demand for the language as a commodity within the organization's strategic community, and so on.

Originality/value

With such conception of language, corporations can begin to think in terms of a portfolio of language assets much in the same way as it thinks of portfolio of financial currency assets.

Keywords

Citation

Dhir, K. (2005), "The value of language: concept, perspectives, and policies", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 358-382. https://doi.org/10.1108/13563280510630151

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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