Language Capacity and National Strength

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.3, 2015


Language Capacity and National Strength



Zhao Shiju, Zhang Xianliang, Yu Shiwen, Zhu Xuefeng and Geng Libo


The issue of language capacity is a key topic in language research. It relates not only to the understanding of the basic generative system of human language, but also to macro-cultural strategy at the national level. In order to advance relevant research, “China’s Third Academic Forum on Linguistic Research Methods and Methodology: Language Capacity and National Strength,” held by Social Sciences in China Press, focused on this question. From the papers presented at the forum, three have been selected for the current special issue. They discuss language capacity in relation to language planning; the development of new-type urbanization; and natural language computer processing capacity. Professor Zhao Shiju, from the College of Chinese Language and Literature, Wuhan University, argues that national language capacity means the sum total of the ability to grasp linguistic resources, provide linguistic services, deal with linguistic issues, develop the language, and related tasks. Key capacities include the possession of linguistic resources, utilization of language and linguistic services, development and use of linguistic resources, citizens’ language, reserves of linguistic talent, language management, and linguistic influence. National language capacity is of great importance to social development and cultural inheritance, economic development and technological innovation, and national security and international development. Professor Zhang Xianliang, of Zhejiang Normal University, holds that new-type urbanization is an important national strategy and a necessity for national development. It offers a broad new stage for the development of citizens’ language capacity, while language capacity is the basis and the driver of new-type urbanization and is of great importance to its construction. Starting from language capacity is an effective means of solving the tough problem in new-type urbanization, and new-type urbanization makes it possible to improve townspeople’s language capacity. Peking University’s Professor Yu Shiwen, of the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Sciences and Associate Professor Zhu Xuefeng, of the Laboratory of Computational Linguistics (a key unit under the Ministry of Education), together with Geng Libo, Lecturer at the Jiangsu Higher Education Collaborative Innovation Center for Language Ability, jointly put forward the proposition that a linguistic knowledge base is of key importance to boosting computers’ language capacity. In terms of “understanding,” machine language capacity is still a long way behind man’s, and we need to put more effort into finding ways of upgrading it. In natural language processing, computational linguistics offers an indispensable perspective. At present, semantic computing is at the heart of linguistic computing. Faced with the major demands of language information processing on the scale of the Internet, language computing, especially deep linguistic computing, has plenty of room to develop.