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Language planning is a deliberate effort to influence the function, structure, or acquisition of languages or language variety within a speech community. It is often associated with government planning, but is also used by a variety of non-governmental organizations, such as grass-roots organizations, and individuals. Goals of such planning vary. Better communication through assimilation of a single dominant language can bring economic benefits to minorities but is also perceived to facilitate their political domination.
Language engineering involves the creation of natural language processing systems, whose cost and outputs are measurable and predictable, as well as establishment of language regulators, such as formal or informal agencies, committees, societies or academies as language regulators, to design or develop new structures to meet contemporary needs. It is a distinct field contrasted to natural language processing and computational linguistics. A recent trend of language engineering is the use of Semantic Web technologies for the creation, archiving, processing, and retrieval of machine processable language data.
Four overarching language ideologies motivate decision making in language planning. The first, linguistic assimilation, is the belief that every member of a society, irrespective of their native language, should learn and use the dominant language of the society in which they live. An example is the English-only movement of some residents of the United States.
In contrast is the second ideology, linguistic pluralism - the recognition and support of multiple languages within one society. Examples include the coexistence of French, German, Italian, and Romansh in Switzerland; and the shared official status of English, Malay, Tamil, and Mandarin Chinese in Singapore. The coexistence of many languages may not necessarily arise from a conscious language ideology, but rather related to the relative efficiency in communication of a common language.
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