Language becomes politicized when it is used as the basis for dividing people into political groups, or when the services that are available or the laws that apply to people depend upon the language that they speak.
The politicization of language is very widespread, as language is one of the chief unifying elements of a nation. Within nations, it is also widespread. For example, Belgium has separate governments for the designated Flemish-speaking areas, Flanders, and for the designated French-speaking areas, Wallonia.
The politicization of language can cause inefficient government. For example, policies about rubbish disposal must be applied by each Belgian province. When tensions between politico-linguistic groups were high in 1997, Flemish-Brabant cancelled its contract for waste disposal with Walloon companies, choosing instead to build a waste incinerator, despite the fact that Walloon companies will be short of waste to burn, and the planned incinerator dismays the Brussels population close by, which falls under yet another separate government.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
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