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Author Topic: McJobs, and "Unfair" Definitions.
Occasional
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quote:
I think it is a dumb thing to put into a dictionary.
Exactly! This is one reason I have been very upset about the current state of modern dictionaries. Just another sign of dumbing down America (or English for that matter). There are way too many more important words that should be in a dictionary to add in these phrases that are at best silly and never going to be used outside of a limited context.

Just in case anyone will say the usual - then you don't have to buy them - well, I haven't. I own a large three volume set that is far more useful.

". . . dictionaries did not coin the word; they're merely reporting on a word in common usage today and providing a defnition based on what what was clearly intended by the speakers/writers who use it."

Dictionaries, if they are at all useful, should not be reporting on anything. They should be a reference and teaching tool for improving English knowledge and skills for at least vocabulary. Adding Mc-whatever jargon is horrible and degrading for any educational tool worth using. Otherwise they are nothing more than fun reading material that quickly goes out of date.

"I doubt McDonald's is going to suffer too much from the definition."

I guess I have already said this before, but the English language suffers. Can you imagine a college kid using McJob in a serious college paper? For that matter, an article in an important professional journal that doesn't have to do with economics?

"The dictionary tells us what words mean when people use them, not what they should mean."

YIKES! I think any dictionary worth its salt will say what the words should mean. Saying what people mean (particularly contemporary) should be lower down on the definition and perhaps as a side note for the most jargon specific.

None of this has anything to do with defending McDonalds. I don't care about that. It has everything to do with the state of education these days.

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Tresopax
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We need these words in the dictionary, if only for the sake of my chances in Scrabble!
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Adding Mc-whatever jargon is horrible and degrading for any educational tool worth using.
Being able to look up the definition of McJob seems pretty useful to me.
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katharina
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While we may not want to admit the ugly cousins are related to us, I think a comprehensive dictionary that leaves out words that are part of the language is a failure of a dictionary.

You could put out a dictionary that covers only the respectable words in English, but it is, inherently, non-comprehensive.

The proplem with defining words by what they "should" mean, beyond not being a dictionary but rather an ettiquette guide, is the question of who gets to define the "should." One of the things that I love about English is that it is so egalitarian and democratic. If enough people say a word and mean it a certain way, it is part of the language.

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How? Didn't you already know what it meant? Finally, lets assume you didn't. Why would it be useful to put it in a dictionary when all you need to do is ask the person who said it what they mean? Its not as if it is a complicated word that is important to the English language.
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Occasional
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"You could put out a dictionary that covers only the respectable words in English, but it is, inherently, non-comprehensive. "

Such as my four volume set. To say that isn't comprehensive wouldn't be a very good description. Yet, it isn't filled with modern jargon that is of "one note" use. I guess its about what one considers the reason for a dictionary.

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katharina
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quote:
I guess its about what one considered the reason for a dictionary.
Exactly. Is it prescriptive (English speakers should use these words.) or descriptive (English speakers use these words.)?

I think a prescriptive dictionary is not a dictionary at all, but is instead an etiquette guide.

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Occasional
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I don't know if it is prescriptive, but for me its about what these English words ARE.
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Dagonee
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You know what really annoys me about this? They put the word in with caps, which means it can't be used in Scrabble. And "mcjob" is a yummy Scrabble word.

The whole mcphenomenon would be a useful tool in the Scrabble arsenal.

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katharina
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What do you mean by what they are? What the words signify or mean, or what they are as cultural artifacts?

quote:
Such as my four volume set. To say that isn't comprehensive wouldn't be a very good description.
Well, it isn't completely. The Oxford English Dictionary is dozens of volumes, so anything shorter is obviously leaving out some words. If it is leaving out ANY words, it isn't comprehensive. That's not meant pejoratively - it can still be a very nice dictionary.
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Occasional
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What the words signify or mean when used in an ordinary or traditional sense. Like I said, having modern or jargon specific definitions added on to a word should be near the bottom or as a side note. Any modern or jargon-like words should either be left out or put into a dictionary that is for those kind of things.
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steven
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Occasional, I had this very discussion when I was 14 or so with my English teacher.
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katharina
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quote:
Any modern or jargon-like words should either be left out or put into a dictionary that is for those kind of things.
Like a comprehensive dictionary that covers every word in the language?

If I understand what you're saying, you want the standard desktop dictionary to not include informal words or words from dialects.

That's fine. [Smile] It's leaving things out, but it is choosing to limit its scope. That's certainly okay - desktop dictionaries have to.

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Occasional
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"The Oxford English Dictionary is dozens of volumes"

Ok, that is different. If they want to put in Mcjobs when they have that much room, fine by me (although I still think it takes away some credibility. A word should be used for at least 20 to 50 years first). My familiarity with dictionaries that actually get used are one to three volumes. And, sadly, these quick reference dictionaries *still* add words that take away room for more important ones.

"20 to 50 years first." Otherwise, you are going to have to buy a book every year with things you could ask the person sitting next to you - or pay attention to context - to understand easily. I use dictionaries to help me spell a word or know what one means, not as a cultural indicator.

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
If they want to be viewed as an upscale, healthy restaurant chain that offers good long-term jobs with excellent working conditions, then they should actually become such a restaurant chain, rather than use advertising campaigns to pretend like they are. Nobody is fooled, I think.

I was! You stole my innocence, you heartless s.o.b.! Give it back!
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Jon Boy
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I think you greatly misunderstand the purpose of a dictionary, Occasional. It's definitely not to define only the words that meet a certain standard, like those that could be used in a college paper. The English language is not suffering, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be. It's just changing, as all languages do, and that apparently bothers you.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:
I think you greatly misunderstand the purpose of a dictionary, Occasional. It's definitely not to define only the words that meet a certain standard, like those that could be used in a college paper. The English language is not suffering, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be. It's just changing, as all languages do, and that apparently bothers you.

Yeah, tell 'em all to fark off. You're a hoopy frood.
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Occasional
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"It's just changing, as all languages do, and that apparently bothers you."

No, it doesn't. It is a matter of priority. As words fall out of favor or use, they can be excused. I am not worried that an 1828 dictionary is not the same as a 1980 one. What I am worried about is that there are legit words that are getting left out because new words that are not essential to the English language (and more indicative of pop culture) are crowding them out.

What is the purpose of a dictionary to you? I know what the purpose of a dictionary is for me.

This discussion has gotten me into thinking of getting into the dictionary writing market. Are words and their definitions copywrited? Do I have to come up with my own way of describing them in my own words? I could call it "The Literate English Dictionary" compilation.

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katharina
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The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate
quote:
This book and its companion, The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate, are prescriptive rather than descriptive, dedicated to recording language as it should be rather than how it often is.

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
What I am worried about is that there are legit words that are getting left out because new words that are not essential to the English language (and more indicative of pop culture) are crowding them out.
Such as?
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KarlEd
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
You know what really annoys me about this? They put the word in with caps, which means it can't be used in Scrabble. And "mcjob" is a yummy Scrabble word.

The whole mcphenomenon would be a useful tool in the Scrabble arsenal.

Or just come play with us. We're very lax about the "is it in the dictionary" rule. We don't even have one available when we play. We use just about any word we can reasonably use in a sentence.
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steven
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"I was! You stole my innocence, you heartless s.o.b.! Give it back!"

Best post on thread award! [ROFL]

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Jon Boy
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quote:
Originally posted by Occasional:
"It's just changing, as all languages do, and that apparently bothers you."

No, it doesn't.

Well, you did complain about the dumbing down of America, so it certainly seems like it bothers you. Perhaps I misunderstood.

quote:
It is a matter of priority. As words fall out of favor or use, they can be excused. I am not worried that an 1828 dictionary is not the same as a 1980 one. What I am worried about is that there are legit words that are getting left out because new words that are not essential to the English language (and more indicative of pop culture) are crowding them out.
As JT asked, what words are being left out? There are probably thousand of words in a standard collegiate dictionary that I've never even seen before. I don't know what important words should be in there that aren't. Plus, I think you might have a different definition of "essential" than others. Maybe pop culture is essential for many people.

quote:
What is the purpose of a dictionary to you? I know what the purpose of a dictionary is for me.
To be essentially a catalogue or index of the language. Here's Merriam-Webster's first definition:
quote:
a reference source in print or electronic form containing words usually alphabetically arranged along with information about their forms, pronunciations, functions, etymologies, meanings, and syntactical and idiomatic uses
I don't see anything wrong with that definition, nor do I see how including "mcjob" violates it.

quote:
This discussion has gotten me into thinking of getting into the dictionary writing market. Are words and their definitions copywrited? Do I have to come up with my own way of describing them in my own words? I could call it "The Literate English Dictionary" compilation.
Words and their meanings are not copyrighted. The specific definitions are, though. You'd have to come up with definitions in your own words.

Edit: Also, I want to post this just because I think it's funny.

[ March 23, 2007, 01:09 PM: Message edited by: Jon Boy ]

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Occasional
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Katharina, I haven't had time to check it out, but the dictionary sounds very interesting.

[ March 23, 2007, 01:23 PM: Message edited by: Occasional ]

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Occasional
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"As JT asked, what words are being left out?"

I am not a walking dictionary, but I can at least go by personal experience. There have been many times that I have wanted to know the meaning of a word and not found it in a typical college level dictionary. Usually, I just look it up on the Internet as I find that more reliable in finding what I want. That is probably the reason I even have a three volume dictionary.

Jon Boy, you and I have completely different reasons for wanting a dictionary. That is fine by me. I suppose, as one person said in the comments section of Katharina's link, there are those who use words for communication and those who use them for accuracy and careful word choice.

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Jon Boy
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I guess I still don't see how including a word like "mcjob" causes a typical collegiate dictionary like Merriam-Webster's to fail in the task of helping you find the words you want. I don't see how communication and accurate word choice are conflicting goals that a dictionary must be forced to choose between.

You also expressed dismay that the word was included in any dictionary at all, even though it's in the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary, which does not remove words, even obsolete ones, to save space. So how is it horrible and degrading to include it in the OED?

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Occasional
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Jon Boy, if you don't understand I honestly can't explain it to you beyond any way I have already tried. I know this is a conversation killer, but we will just have to agree to disagree. Read Katharina's link to the dictionary for some comments on my own feelings said better.
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katharina
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The average specimen of a dictionary is not the OED, so if someone pictures a dictionary, I'm not surprised it was not the OED.

I don't think Occ was thinking of the OED because he mentioned the issue of space, and space is not an issue in the OED.

ETA: I think this post needs one more mention of the OED.

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katharina
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Occasional, I think you would like the book about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. There is mention of this kind of conversation taking place during the making of it, and it's a very well-written book. I enjoyed it very much.

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

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Jon Boy
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That's an excellent book, and I'll second the recommendation.

And I think I'll second what Katie said on the previous page: I don't think you really want a dictionary, but rather a usage or language etiquette guide—a book that doesn't just tell you what words are out there, but rather which words are deemed to meet certain standards. And that's just not what a dictionary is.

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katharina
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Jon Boy, from what he said I've changed my mind. It could be a dictionary, just a non-comprehensive dictionary with a specialized scope.
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Occasional
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If you did read my other words once the OED was explained, I did relax my critical opinion of it including Mcjob. Not that I think of all the words out there it should have been included.
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Jon Boy
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Sorry, Occasional. I was looking over your other posts to see if there were any points I had overlooked, but I guess I still missed that one.

Katie: Hmm. I think whether you call it a dictionary or not is sort of beside the point. The point is that (from what I gather) Occasional wants not a typical descriptive dictionary, but a more prescriptive reference guide. And that's fine if that's what he wants. But I disagree that all dictionaries should follow that kind of standard. But like Occasional already said, we'll probably just have to agree to disagree on that issue.

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katharina
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I think we are talking past each other. I don't agree with your assessment of what Occ was looking for.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
What I am worried about is that there are legit words that are getting left out because new words that are not essential to the English language (and more indicative of pop culture) are crowding them out.
The vast majority of English words are unnecessary, if you're willing to use homonyms and circomlocutions.

A large fraction of our beloved tongue is superfluous, as there are multitudinous ways to say anything.

The English language has high levels or built-in redundancy, which means that almost all parts of it could be safely eliminated.

But still, trying to remove words from the language (or keep them from entering) for that reason would be double-plus ungood.

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Occasional
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"But I disagree that all dictionaries should follow that kind of standard."

I actually agree with you on that. Not all dictionaries should follow the same pattern. For instance, there is a need for a medical or technical dictionary. There will probably be good reasons for a modern or popular dictionary.

However, my complaint is about the dictionaries I have seen used in College. They have as many "misses" as they do "hits" where I think it shouldn't be the case. A "General" reference shouldn't have as many new popular enteries.

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MightyCow
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I think you mean double-plus unMcgood
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steven
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McD's brought this on themselves, anyway. After the McGriddle, McNuggets, and all that, expecting people to not say "McJob" would be like expecting OSC to jump for joy if Hillary Clinton won the 2008 presidentials. Not...gonna...happen.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
I think you mean double-plus unMcgood

I think you're double-plus right.
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Jon Boy
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
I think we are talking past each other. I don't agree with your assessment of what Occ was looking for.

You're probably right, but Occasional said he was giving up on trying to explain himself. And from what I can tell, he hasn't said that he either agrees or disagrees with your interpretation, so I can't exactly be sure that you've got it right and I don't. I'm not really sure where that leaves things.
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katharina
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Since he isn't going to explain and we don't agree, I think we should drop it.

ETA: Or, armwrestle.

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Occasional
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"A large fraction of our beloved tongue is superfluous, as there are multitudinous ways to say anything."

I agree with this. And I am not against getting rid of words in a general dictionary that have become out of use. What I do think is that English has become so clogged with colloquialisms based on pop culture that it has become inarticulate. High school and college expectations for education has suffered as less students can communicate accurately. Dictionaries made for these audiences that add those very modernisms of popular phrases only contribute to the bable. Educational standards have been seriously compromised.

[ March 23, 2007, 04:07 PM: Message edited by: Occasional ]

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Jon Boy
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Armwrestling it is!
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate
quote:
This book and its companion, The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate, are prescriptive rather than descriptive, dedicated to recording language as it should be rather than how it often is.

I really want this.
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El JT de Spang
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quote:
What I do think is that English has become so clogged with colloquialisms based on pop culture that it has become inarticulate. High school and college expectations for education has suffered as less students can communicate accurately.
I don't disagree. But you're tilting at the wrong windmill by placing blame on the dictionary. You're shooting the messenger, so to speak.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
This book and its companion, The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate, are prescriptive rather than descriptive, dedicated to recording language as it should be rather than how it often is.
Interesting.
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Occasional
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I only blame the dictionary so far as it contributes. What they include adds some legitimacy to words where it probably shouldn't.
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King of Men
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"Doubleplus" doesn't have a hyphen. The whole point of Newspeak is to make language more rapid and staccato; putting in hyphens slows down the reader. Doubleplusungood! Verging crimethink!
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mr_porteiro_head
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The whole point of Newspeak was to limit the words available for the citizens to use, thus limiting the ideas they were able to think.

Edit: Although, doing some reading, it appears that what you say is correct, except for saying that it was the main goal of Newspeak:
quote:
A staccato rhythm of short syllables was also a goal, further reducing the need for deep thinking about language.

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Teshi
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I guess Occaisional doesn't want a McDictionary.
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