Dear Tadeusz and Eric,
"Language engineering" is *very* rare in general usage outside the linguistics
community. The Bank of English has only two examples in its 328 million words
of 1990s texts. However, the first, from the Courier Mail (Brisbane),
Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd, of Tue 21 Feb 1995, is used (in what I think is
probably the "lay" meaning, i.e. as a synonym for "language planning", maybe
by analogy with "genetic engineering", etc):
"February 16 Straitjacket for language THE people who are promoting language
engineering have obviously stopped taking their tablets. Paranoid about
eliminating sexism and installing gender homogenisation, they are on a futile
mission to legislate or bureaucratise language into a straitjacket."
The second example, from the INK newsletter (I don't have the details, but
a linguistic services group of some kind), uses the term in the more
"The second meeting of the International Industry
Translation Standards Association (IITSA), a recently-formed group initially
organized by INK International, was hosted by IBM Denmark and brought together
a growing range of participants from both supply and demand sides of the
documentation services business. Devoted to the exchange of ideas and
experience on reducing costs within the multiple-language documentation
process, IITSA aims to provide a platform for creating industry-wide
terminology and language technology standards and for developing quality
training programs. <p> <p> Evidence that IITSA is finding significant echoes
throughout the public and private sectors was the presence of a Commission of
the European Communities (CEC) official with responsibilities for the Language
Engineering Action Program (LEAP)."
Although the evidence is so scanty, it does seem to point to two meanings,
one technical and one non-technical. Obviously corpora of a few hundred
million words are still too small to investigate many features of language.
Let us hope that corpora of billions of words are not too far away!
Honorary Research Fellow
Corpus Research Group
University of Birmingham
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