Supply And Demand


It is not uncommon for terms like "supply" and "demand" to be used in the study of language issues, whether by economists or by non-economists. However, the actual meaning of "supply" and "demand" in the context of language is not always clear. In particular, the implicit interpretation of quantity and price, which is necessary for the economic constructs to be meaningful, needs to be identified more precisely. This chapter opens with a general discussion of the problems raised by the transposition of economic terminology to language issues. It examines the supply of and demand for language-specific goods and services, and then moves on to an examination of supply and demand in the case of language itself, showing that these concepts can be useful if language is interpreted in terms of a linguistic environment. The notions of "quantity", "price" and "equilibrium" in both settings are discussed, and then applied to language policy problems. Some language policies can be interpreted as supply-side, others as demand-side, and bring about different consequences for the equilibrium price of a given linguistic environment.



Several things have changed over the years, though most of the fundamental principles remain the same. The SPA is now the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). The piracy report link above appears to be broken (I'll try to track it down). And piracy loss figures are now higher than those stated in this article. I've also found that more recent piracy reports don't describe their methodology in as much detail as the 1997 report did. A good source of clearheaded (I hesitate to say unbiased, though I do think it's right-minded) reporting of software piracy issues is the British IT online magazine, The Register. Searching there for "piracy" should turn up some interesting reading.

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