Language engineering - a champion for European culture

Diver, J.; Simpkins, N.; Banus, E. and Elio, B. (1996). Language engineering - a champion for European culture. In: ACTAS DEL CONGRESO CULTURA EUROPEA; Cultura Europea, 23-26 Oct 1996, Pamplona.


Language is key to culture. It is a direct cultural medium as well as a means of recording and providing access to non-lingual elements of culture. Language is also fundamental to a sense of cultural identity. For this reason, it is vital, in a changing Europe, that we preserve the multi-lingual character of our society in order to move successfully towards closer co-operation at a political, economic, and social level.

Language engineering is the application of knowledge of language to the development of computer software which can recognise, understand, interpret, and generate human language in all its forms.

The paper provides a high level view of the ‘state of the art’ in language engineering and indicates ways in which it will have a profound impact on our culture in the future. It shows how advances in language engineering are an important aid in maintaining cultural diversity in a multi-lingual European society, while enabling the development of social cohesion across cultural and national divides. It addresses issues raised by the prospect of the Multi-lingual Information Society, including education, human communication with technology and information management, as well as aspects of digital cities such as tele-presence in digital libraries, virtual art galleries and electronic museums. The paper raises the issue of language as a factor in cultural domination, showing the contribution that language engineering can make towards countering it.

The paper also raises a number of controversial issues concerning the likely benefits arising from the ways in which language is likely to influence the culture of Europe.

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