NEF - Le Livre 010101 de Marie Lebert - Mutilingualism on the Web

Multilingualism on the Web (1999)
1. Introduction

It is true that the Internet transcends limitations of time, distances and borders, but what about languages?

From the beginning, the main language of the Internet has been English, and it still is today, but the use of other languages is steadily increasing. Sooner or later, the distribution of languages on the Internet will correspond to the language distribution on the planet, and free translation software in all languages will be available for an instantaneous translation of any website. But there is still a lot to do before multilingualism can be really effective.

This study is divided into four parts: Multilingualism; Language Resources; Translation Resources; and Language-Related Research.

In the chapter about multilingualism, we will study the growth of non-English languages on the Internet. French will be taken as an example, and the efforts in the European Union relating to the diversity of languages will be examined.

In the chapter about language resources, we will give some examples of the language resources available on the Web -- sites indexing language resources, language directories, language dictionaries and glossaries, textual databases, and terminological databases.

In the chapter relating to translation resources, we will explore the problems and perspectives linked to machine translation and computer-assisted translation.

In the last chapter on language-related research, we will present some projects relating to machine translation research, computational linguistics, language engineering, and internationalization and localization.

In August and December 1998, I sent an inquiry, based on three questions, to organizations and companies involved in languages on the Web. The three questions were:

1) How do you see multilingualism on the Internet?;

2) What did the use of the Internet bring to your professional life and/or the life of your company/organization; and

3) How do you see your professional future with the Internet or the future of Internet-related activities as regards languages?

The answers received are included in this study. I express here my warmest thanks to all those who sent me their comments.


As a translator-editor - working mainly for the International Labour Office (ILO), Geneva, Switzerland - I am fascinated by languages in general, so I wanted to know more about multilingualism on the Web. I found I had some time to look into the subject and I wrote this paper about the topics I was particularly interested in (first version in November 1998, updated in February 1999). I am also interested in the relationship between the print media and the Internet, and I wrote another paper about these topics too.

With many thanks to Laurie Chamberlain, who kindly edited the English version of this paper.

Chapter 2: Multilingualism
Table of Contents

Mutilingualism on the Web
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1999 Marie Lebert