On 17 February 2000, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
> However, I could understand social scientists / sociolinguists might want
> to extend the notion of "social engineering", planning and organising
> society, to "language engineering", meaning to (attempt to) impose
> planning and constraints on language development; for example, the Academie
> Francais banning the use of certain words as "un-French". That said,
> I have never heard or seen the phrase "language engineering" with this
> sense; can any Corpus Linguists help out with KWIC citations?....
This usage certainly does occur in the language planning literature.
(It says something about the degree of specialization of the age and the
separation between NLP people and other areas of "applied linguistics"
that most seem unaware of it.) Moreover -- while I haven't actually
done the careful research to establish this -- I would suspect it
predates the adoption of the term by the natural language processing
community. A couple of citations from journal articles appear below.
Language Engineering for Legal Transplantation: Conceptual Problems in
Creating Common Law Chinese
Sin K K, Roebuck D
Language-and-Communication; 1996, 16, 3, July, 235-254..
Problems arising from the maintenance of English common law & language
after China's reappropriation of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative
Region are investigated. Although the Chinese language had been
critiqued for its seeming inability to experience linguistic change, it
is argued that any language can adapt to a changing social environment &
can augment itself through the acceptance of concepts from other
cultures. Several examples of English-Chinese translations of common law
terminology are presented; combinations of free morphemes document the
sophisticated concept-formation ability of the Chinese language. It is
suggested that Chinese translations of English common law terms must
simply be created in order to be effected. Suggestions allowing the
Chinese language to express common law terminology are offered: fixing
the semantic reference system, adjusting the lexical content of the
language through the implementation of offering new meanings to or
changing meanings of pre-existent words, & constructing a metalinguistic
mechanism that explains any lexical adjustments.
Language Engineering and Educational Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa
Geolinguistics; 1989, 15, 1-6..
The overall nature of multiethnic, multilingual societies in sub-Saharan
Africa, & the linguistic policies the governments in this region have
adopted, are examined. The nature of language engineering in three
countries - Nigeria, the Republic of the Seychelles, & Gambia - is
briefly examined to illustrate the kinds of problems that can arise. It
is shown that language engineering can either encourage or hinder
national unity, depending both on underlying factors & the ways in which
policies are implemented.
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