An Analytical Review of Language Economics with a Discussion on Language Use, Policy and Planning in Sri Lanka

Ananda Jayawickrama *

Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka.

Sandya Nawarathna

Department of Archaeology, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Language dynamics depend not only on factors as explained by sociolinguists but also on economic factors. Economics of language and economic analysis of language provide analytical framework for language choice, use of language, language development, language and economic wellbeing, language assimilation, language death, etc. This paper discusses theoretical aspects of economics of language and how language dynamics and economic factors are interrelated with a discussion on language use in Sri Lanka. The paper surveys literature on economics of language which considers language as a rational choice. Optimal language choice maximizes economic benefits subject to constraints. If a language does not serve the need of the people, the evolutionary forces work to improve its functioning, thus language remains incomplete. In a framework of human development, language skills enhance economic gains. As per the discrimination theory, marginalization of minority language speakers from economic activities was analyzed. It was also discussed that economic factors drive a society with many languages to choose one common language or to retain or preserve endangered minority languages. Another branch of research focused on the analysis of official language policies of countries. These studies were highly useful in understanding the relationship between economic factors and language issues and resulting language policy planning. In the discussion on language use in Sri Lanka, it is found that official and link language policies do not always ensure equal access to economic opportunities for different language users. Lack of official data and extensive research on language aspects and their economic concerns further restrict the implementation of better language policy and finally resolving language issues.

Keywords: Economics of language, language, the economy, language dynamics, economic factors, language analysis in Sri Lanka

How to Cite

Jayawickrama, Ananda, and Sandya Nawarathna. 2024. “An Analytical Review of Language Economics With a Discussion on Language Use, Policy and Planning in Sri Lanka”. Asian Journal of Economics, Business and Accounting 24 (7):159-75.


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