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Criteria for new inclusions in the OED – A case study of informatization

Did a word like informatization have to wander through the English language for 24 years and be debated in China for 8 years before its inclusion in the OED?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 December 2015


In 1977 two French men, Simon Nora, a high-level civil servant, and Alain Minc, an economist, co-authored a report entitled L'informatisation de la société to French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing, which was later translated into English and published as The Computerization of Society (Nora & Minc, 1980). However, in a paper of the same title written in English and published in 1987, Minc simply transplanted the French word informatisation directly into English rather than sticking to the old translation computerization. However that was not the first time the word informatisation was used in the English language. One year before, the word informatization had appeared in an article published in the American magazine Dædalus:

  1. (1) This is what the information society is offering as a by-product of a new stage in the mechanization of the economy and the informatization of culture. […] It is no accident that the phrase “artificial intelligence” has become such an important term within the culture of those responsible for the informatization of society, because, if intelligence can be artificial, then the randomness of history will disappear (Smith, 1986: 165–6).

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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