Assessing efficiency and fairness in multilingual communication
Towards a general analytical framework
The comparison between various language policies that aim to manage multilingual communication ought to rely on some robust methodology for evaluation. This paper discusses the possibility to found such a methodology on the well-established concepts of efficiency and fairness. Assessing efficiency implies comparing how resources are allocated under alternative policy options (or scenarios) in order to identify the policy promising the best overall allocation. Assessing fairness calls for the evaluation of the distributive effects of each scenario on the linguistic groups involved in communication — that is, ascertaining who benefits and who loses (and how much) under alternative policy options.
This paper develops indictors of effective and fair communication, which synthesise some desirable characteristics of communication processes, and which enable us to rank-order, with respect to their relative efficiency and fairness, different ways of handling communication in multilingual settings. In order to assess effectiveness and efficiency, we work with three (not mutually exclusive) definitions of communication, namely, informatory, cooperative and strategic communication, which reflect the different (main) communicational intents of the actors. In order to assess fairness, we establish a distinction between communication in terms of access, process and outcome.