Idols of the Market

Christopher Hutton

in Language, Meaning and the Law

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780748633500
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671489 | DOI:
Idols of the Market

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This chapter looks at ideas of commodification and circulation, focusing on trademark law. A trademark is a distinctive sign which associates a product or service with the business that produces it. The liberal ideal in relation to the language culture of a particular polity would be that words and formulations, and therefore associated ideas, should circulate as freely as possible. In metaphorical terms, a language should be an open-access space or ‘commons’, where no single participant or group of participants has a monopoly and there is no central planning agency or centralised oversight. However trademarks as property rights represent a form of monopoly, and the question is how far free speech rights should encroach on that monopoly. Linguists tend to take a populist view, but some trademark lawyers see this as overly idealistic.

Keywords: Circulation; Language commons; Free speech; Trademarks; Commodification; Linguistic popularism

Chapter.  9038 words. 

Subjects: Language Teaching and Learning

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