Weekly Response, Anna Murphy

My best friend in college was a linguistics major and was a staunch anti-prescriptivist when it came to spelling, grammar, and pronunciation. She believed that people could pretty much say things how they wanted and if they were understood by their audience, rules were irrelevant. Upon reading about controlled vocabulary and thesaurus creation in the library world, it seems to me that these tools we’ve created to increase findability have proven my friend right. It doesn’t matter anymore if I never learn how to spell, if I am approximately right, I’ll be able to find what I’m looking for in a catalog. The idea of a controlled vocabulary may seem to be reactionary to this deterioration of user competency (essentially a scolding: “ACTUALLY, it’s called ‘pants'”) , but I see it as evolved. It is essentially saying “sure, you can call them whatever you want, but here’s where we keep the information on it, under ‘pants.'” It seems that CV embraces change, something we’ve discussed is difficult for libraries to do, for the sake of the user.


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