Words have no precision, though in information storage and retrieval we are required to act as if they did. We have, therefore, to impose certain arbitrary conditions to reduce the element of personal interpretation. ‘Meaning’ must be removed from the indexing stage to that of vocabulary construction. Vocabularies can be reduced to a minimum, first to a core of terms used in a specialist science, and, following Russell, ultimately to undefined terms symbolic of sense experience. ‘Basic English’ has shown similar minimizing to be feasible for a natural language. The success of Batten cards shows that the principle could be equally applicable to specialist indexing vocabularies.
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