restrict term

To restrict terms or the context in which they're used, is an absolutely essential aspect of learning especially to learn languages itself. It is particularly important in human-machine communication, e.g. voice user interfaces.

For more advanced discussion of the economics of this see get the words right, instructional capital, active ontology and living ontology.

Various standards of how to restrict terms have evolved in different contexts. From most to least restrictive:
  • REST which restricts use of command verbs ideally only to those supported in HTTP
  • any programming language typically has only a dozen verbs or so, with very large ones like C++ having over 60
  • various REST heresy approaches which extend the list, seeking to include all control verbs used in practice, and simplifying them only gradually into one control grammar - usually leading to a list of a hundred verbs
  • Basic English or a primer in any language will rely on no more than a few hundred words, focusing on the verbs
  • a defining vocabulary for English is about two thousand words, and restricts the senses in which these can be used

Another approach is to only restrict terms by tense, e.g. an active ontology will emphasize present tense and second person. Living Agenda is one good example.

A third approach is to restrict term that are inherently ambiguated or confusing, as the open politics web does, or those that endorse a position, e.g. term:namespace.