Chapter 2. Language Systems

  1. Nikolas Coupland
  1. Abram De Swaan

Published Online: 7 OCT 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444324068.ch2

The Handbook of Language and Globalization

The Handbook of Language and Globalization

How to Cite

De Swaan, A. (2010) Language Systems, in The Handbook of Language and Globalization (ed N. Coupland), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444324068.ch2

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 7 OCT 2010
  2. Published Print: 6 AUG 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405175814

Online ISBN: 9781444324068



  • language systems;
  • language (sub-) system - and set of ‘language groups’;
  • small, peripheral language groups - and adjacent communities;
  • utility of language, I , for a given speaker in a constellation or sub-constellation, S - expressed in terms of its ‘communication value’ Q i;
  • ‘guaranteed’ Q-value - measures to prevent people from switching languages;
  • recorded language - as collective cultural capital;
  • consumers of language - dependent culture, best served by varied texts;
  • protectionism and free trade in cultural exchange;
  • monoglossia, polyglossia, and heteroglossia;
  • predominance of English, second language of member societies - lingua franca of international traffic


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • The Communication Potential of a Language: The Q-Value

  • Recorded Language as Collective Cultural Capital

  • Protectionism and Free Trade in Cultural Exchange

  • Monoglossia, Polyglossia, and Heteroglossia

  • The Case of the European Union

  • English as the Hub of the World Language System