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3. Information Interaction > 3.3. Language and Representation

Language and Representation

Words intended to represent concepts: that is the questionable foundation upon which information retrieval is built. Words in the content. Words in the query. Even collections of images and software and physical objects rely on words in the form of metadata for representation and retrieval. And words are imprecise, ambiguous, indeterminate, vague, opaque; you get the picture. Our language bubbles with synonyms, homonyms, acronyms, and even contronyms (words with contradictory meanings in different contexts such as sanction, cleave, and bi-weekly). And this is before we even talk about the epic numbers of spelling errors committed on a daily basis. In The Mother Tongue, author Bill Bryson shares a wealth of colorful facts about language, including:


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