This book belongs to a fi eld of research usually called the ‘economics of language’, or ‘language economics’. Some features of language economics have been mentioned in Chapter 1, but a more formal perspective will be useful for the following stages of our discussion. Let us therefore defi ne it as follows:

The economics of language rests on the paradigm of mainstream theoretical economics and uses the concepts and tools of economics in the study of relationships featuring linguistic variables. It focuses principally, but not exclusively, on those relationships in which economic variables also play a part.