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Re: Controlled Vocabularies Aid Translation and Content Management

From: Hamish Harvey <hamish@hamishharvey.com>
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 2006 12:52:17 +0100
Message-ID: <8f9aaf260610040452y5acf66e3he4941d902eef1e49@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Bernard vatant" <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com>
Cc: "Karl Dubost" <karl@w3.org>, "Semantic Web" <semantic-web@w3.org>

Bernard,

On 04/10/06, Bernard vatant <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com> wrote:

>  Like it or not, there is an emerging language which I would call "world
> english", which will eventually drift from both en-UK and en-US the same way
> the latter has evolved from the former over centuries.

Granted. I'm sorry if my comments seemed to suggest that I consider
non-native English speakers to be barbarians with no care for a pure,
correct, and unchanging English. I do not.

Perhaps my comments about EC projects were in any case a distraction
from the main point, which is that the article failed to provide any
support for the claim that controlled vocabularies are a practical
solution to the communication problem in the context of technical
documentation (using a standard phrase for "get off the runway" may be
a different matter).

But I can't resist returning on this:

> World english is
> already the default language of scientific community, techies, engineers,
> web communities ...

Is there, will there ever be, a single "World English"? Surely not.
Nor a single global "scientific community". Your quotation about
Inglish, indeed, suggests (and this seems likely) that there is a
distinct English variant in India. India being large, and its
inhabitants far from a single coherent community constantly in
communication with each other, there is surely also considerable
variability within Inglish. The European Union bureaucracy has its own
(also living) variant which is more different from Inglish than the
variants within Inglish are from each other. All of these are
different from formally "correct" British English, but few if any
Brits speak that language in any case. The native residents of
Newcastle, where I live, speak a variant of English---Geordie---which
is quite unintelligible to many Brits, let alone Americans, Indians,
or Eurocrats. I suppose that, in the end, every individual speaks
their very own English, which is closer to or further from that spoken
by any other individual depending on how close they are in a social
network. Global communication may inhibit divergence, but it will
never create overall convergence.

We had better exercise care in communication---both in expressing and
interpreting---appropriate to both the probability and the
consequences of miscommunication. The use of controlled vocabularies
may play some small part in this.

Cheers,
Hamish

-- 
Hamish Harvey
Research Associate, School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences,
Newcastle University
Received on Wednesday, 4 October 2006 11:52:30 UTC

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