of a language
measures what portion of the speakers of the language are native. The greater the proportion of native speakers, the more captive the language is.
Languages like English
are learned by millions of people
as a second language, but Japanese
for example is almost entirely native speaker
There are about 120m native japanese speakers, and less than 500k fluent non-native speakers.
As the number of speakers goes down, the captivity increases - there are almost no outside speakers of small natural languages
, because learning them isn't very useful. But constructed language
s are totally non-captive, since they have no native speakers.
However, since captive languages don't have many outside speakers, often they are more useful to learn. So if you speak spanish in the USA
it won't do you any good because there are millions of fluent english
speakers around, but if you learn pashtun
, you can easily get a job at the NSA