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Lecture # 9 Principles of language planning by Tauli

Tauli summarized the principles that should be obeyed when introducing linguistic innovations into ethnic languages as well as when constructing a language from scratch. Those of Tauli's principles which are relevant in the present context are arranged in Table 1, where they are set out alongside Grice's conversational principles.

Table 1: Some of Tauli's principles of language planning and Grice's conversational maxims. Tauli's abbreviations: C clarity, E economy. Analogous abbreviations have been added to Grice's principles: N quantity, Q quality, R relation, M manner.




C1. The expression must convey to the listener all the meanings intended by the speaker.
E5. The expression must not convey more meaning than necessary.


N1. Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purposes of the exchange).
N2. Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

Q1. Do not say what you believe to be false.
Q2. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

R1. Be relevant




C3. The expression must contain redundancy.
C4. The greater the possibility for semantic confusion the greater must be the difference in expression.

E2. The expression must be the shortest possible.
E3. The more frequent the expression the shorter it must be.


M1. Avoid obscurity of expression.
M2. Avoid ambiguity.
M3. Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity).
M4. Be orderly.


As can be seen in Table 1, Tauli's principles correspond in quite a striking way with Grice's. Although the two sets of principles have been arrived at from quite different starting points, we should expect them to agree: In order to function well, a language must be such that it makes a well behaved conversation possible. Therefore, Grice's way of reasoning can be said to confirm the correctness of Tauli's. As for "how it should be said", Tauli's formulations can even be seen as elaborations of Grice's.

Some of Grice's principles lack a counterpart among Tauli's principles of language planning. As for the maxim to be orderly, this appears to have been missed by Tauli.

As for the maxims concerning the truth value and the relevance of what is said, corresponding principles of language planning appear to be unnecessary since in these matters the responsibility would seem to rest entirely on the speaker rather than on the language used. This is, however, an erroneous belief. Some languages compel their speakers quite frequently to express something irrelevant or something for which they lack adequate evidence. Occasionally, languages even induce their speakers to say something which they know is not true - if taken literally. In such cases, there is a clash between the pragmatic rules of conversation and certain rules of grammar. In some languages, such clashes are much more frequent than in others. In a consciously planned interlanguage, it should be possible to minimize their occurrence. This problem has not been overlooked by Tauli, but he considered it covered by his principle E5. In all these cases, the expression contains more meaning than is necessary, i.e., some excessive, irrelevant meaning that may even be at variance with truth.

If, in a conversation, you want to fulfill the maxims of appropriate quantity, quality, and relation, you have to say no less and no more than what is required. In order for this to be fulfilled, the language must give you the freedom to choose a more or a less specific expression, according to the circumstances. The corresponding principle of language planning is known as the principle of facultative precision.


There is a basic restriction in the freedom of expression. Language operates with a finite set of lexical items, each of which has a meaning that covers a certain delimited part of reality. In most instances, the limits of the meaning of lexical items agree with what is felt by the users of the language to be a "natural" subdivision of reality.


In most instances, we can elaborate our utterances in such a way as to narrow down the meaning of sufficiently general lexical items as much as is required for the situation at hand. Thus, e.g., instead of just a noun, we may use a noun phrase with an appropriate adjective or demonstrative. When the intended meaning transcends a "natural" subdivision of reality but is more narrow than what can be expressed by a more general lexeme that covers all of the intended meaning, we need to coordinate several expressions. The need for increased elaboration in these cases is basically in agreement with Grice's maxims. We have to be more elaborate if we want to express an unusual idea. However, in some cases the grammar of a language - or its semantic structure - compels the user to express certain semantic distinctions in concepts that appear to form a natural unit. In many such cases, the distinction cannot be avoided by choosing a lower level of precision.


Strictly speaking, the existence of any compulsory (grammaticalized) semantic distinctions in languages is in opposition to the principle of facultative precision. In some cases, the compulsory distinctions would have to be made explicit anyway. In other cases, their grammaticalized expression is redundant, producing a less severe, "superficial" conflict (with E2, M3). In such cases, the quantity of meaning (E5, N2) is not affected but only the quantity of expression. In still other cases, grammar compels the user of the language to communicate some information that would not have been communicated otherwise. This produces "fundamental" conflicts. Even such fundamental conflicts are not particularly severe given that the additional information is accessible to the speaker and that its communication is not counter to his intentions. A severe conflict arises, if the language compels the speaker to express something for which he lacks adequate evidence, or which he does not want to communicate.

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