Chapter 17. Assessing efficiency and fairness in multilingual communication

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As shown in several chapters of this book, actors confronted with the need to communicate in a multilingual context use a variety of strategies. These strategies may be more or less directly influenced by the language policies adopted by the public or private sector institutions in which they operate. Such policies may also be extremely diverse. Whether we are referring to actual language practices or explicit language policies, they can prove more or less multilingual. Assessing the relative merits of “more” or “less” multilingual practices and policies presupposes that we have a set of criteria which we can use as a basis for comparing them with each other. This chapter is devoted to the development of such criteria on the basis of the core principles of policy analysis, as it is applied to a host of other questions ranging from education planning to the provision of health services and environmental protection. We first show how the standard criteria of efficiency and fairness can be constructed and used with reference to language. We then infer from this analytical framework a matrix for the generation of a system of indicators of efficiency and fairness in multilingual communication. Examples of indicators, which can be “populated” with data, are provided in the appendix.


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