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What does “Vocabulary Control” mean?

2012/06/19 in Uncategorized

Imagine, if you will, a university English professor, their adolescent child and a street gang member enter a bar… — what are they going to talk about? What are they going to say? Which words are they going to use? How are they going to be able to understand each other? This is what vocabulary control is all about.

Vocabulary control is about enabling communication — it provides an avenue for information storage and retrieval (aka “search”). Note that “search” does not always mean entering words into a search box and pressing a “search button”. Sometimes people search for their keys, search for a job, search for a place to build a house they would like to live in, search for a home they never experienced in their childhood, and so on. So search is not always what information scientists refer to as “information retrieval“. Again, this is what vocabulary control is all about.

On a rather basic level, one approach to vocabulary control is simply to limit the vocabulary used for indexing information. More advanced vocabulary control includes thesaurus construction and related topics. We refer to “tags” as controlled vocabulary (e.g. an “index” language), and “keywords” as uncontrolled vocabulary (e.g. a “natural” language).

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