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Original scientific paper

»Nature« and »Environment« in German and Portuguese Sustainable Development Strategies for Johannesburg 2002

Adelaide Chichorro Ferreira

Full text: english pdf 111 Kb

page 207-220

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The recent Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development was an important
symbolic moment, in spite of the poor results some people claim to have emerged from it.
The very fact that official written texts were produced for a wide discussion in many
participating countries is a positive side-effect, as it enables the almost unique possibility
of using parallel corpora for the analysis of the respective language and underlying
assumptions. This could lead to the identification of some potential causes for conflicts
and misunderstandings. Both texts were produced according to a (supposedly, at least)
common intention, so they may be seen as functionally equivalent. In spite of that, there
are obviously huge differences, not only in extension, but also in the type of lexical combinations
and stylistic features used. Words like ambiente, in the Portuguese language,
and Umwelt, in German, as well as natureza/Natur, appear in very different lexical environments,
so that one can, by means of a distributive methodology, obtain a picture of
what might be intended with their use in the two countries. Another issue brought about
by this analysis was a reflection on the concept of »foreign« language. This raises the
question not only of knowing whether, or to what extent, written texts like these are really
intended to have an effect on (local) people's minds, but also about pragmatic/cultural
constraints that have influenced their very shaping.


corpus linguistics; Johannesburg; sustainable development; lexical analysis

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