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RE: natural language vs human language

From: CE Whitehead <cewcathar@hotmail.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 15:58:14 -0500
Message-ID: <BAY114-F34B1025A0AD1F5E47B20D8B3910@phx.gbl>
To: christophe.strobbe@esat.kuleuven.be, www-international@w3.org

Hi, I think the terms "natural language" and "natural language processing" 
have been around for a while in the computer world.
So I am not particular myself as to which you use for what.
Someone else mentioned that these terms might be defined.
That might be best.

--C. E. Whitehead
>During a discussion on using "natural language" or "human language" in the 
>context of WCAG, I noticed that W3C I18N documents use either "natural 
>language" or just "language" [1]. For many linguists, "natural language" 
>has a relatively well-defined meaning: a natural langage is one that has 
>native speakers. I don't think that the I18N documents are meant to apply 
>only to languages with native speakers and exclude or ignore artificially 
>created human langages ("constructed languages" [1]) such as Esperanto, 
>Volapük, or Interlingua. On the other hand, I see no evidence that they 
>also apply to computer languages such as Fortran or Python, so I assume 
>these are not meant to be covered. So I wonder if the term "human language" 
>would be more appropriate in those documents. (I apologize in advance if 
>this issue has been discussed and resolved before; a Google search in the 
>archives did not bring up relevant threads).
>[1] Examples
>* The following use the term "natural language":
>  - Internationalization Best Practices: Specifying Languages in XHTML & 
>HTML Content
>    <http://www.w3.org/TR/i18n-html-tech-lang/>;
>  - Tutorial: Creating (X)HTML Pages in Arabic & Hebrew
>    <http://www.w3.org/International/tutorials/bidi-xhtml/>
>    (but only once at the end of the document);
>  - Best Practices for XML Internationalization
>    <http://www.w3.org/TR/xml-i18n-bp/> (just once);
>  - W3C I18N FAQ: Why use the language attribute?
>    <http://www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-lang-why>;
>  - W3C I18N FAQ: Two-letter or three-letter language codes
>    <http://www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-lang-2or3>.
>* The following just use "language", not "natural language" or
>   "human language":
>  - Ruby Annotation <http://www.w3.org/TR/ruby/>;
>  - Unicode in XML and Other Markup Languages
>    <http://www.w3.org/TR/unicode-xml/>;
>  - Authoring Techniques for XHTML & HTML Internationalization: Handling 
>Bidirectional Text 1.0
>    <http://www.w3.org/TR/i18n-html-tech-bidi/>;
>  - Authoring Techniques for XHTML & HTML Internationalization: Characters 
>and Encodings 1.0
>    <http://www.w3.org/TR/i18n-html-tech-char/>;
>  - FAQ: Monolingual vs. multilingual Web sites
>    <http://www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-mono-multilingual>;
>  - Setting the HTTP charset parameter
>    <http://www.w3.org/International/O-HTTP-charset>;
>  - FAQ: Multilingual Forms
>    <http://www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-forms-utf-8>;
>  - FAQ: Non-English tags
>    <http://www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-non-eng-tags>;
>  - FAQ: HTTP and meta for language information
>    <http://www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-http-and-lang>;
>  - Language tags in HTML and XML
>Of course, this is just a sample, not an exhaustive list.
>(A Google search for "human language" in http://www.w3.org/International/ 
>returns exactly three results.)
>Best regards,
>Christophe Strobbe
>K.U.Leuven - Departement of Electrical Engineering - Research Group on 
>Document Architectures
>Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 - 3001 Leuven-Heverlee - BELGIUM
>tel: +32 16 32 85 51
>Disclaimer: http://www.kuleuven.be/cwis/email_disclaimer.htm

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Received on Monday, 12 February 2007 20:58:24 UTC

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