I doomed mankind with a free text editor
Morten Just
2K218

Simplicity is a great goal. But the proposed solution is based on a number of logical fallacies (sorry, I mean not truth ;-) ). For example:

  1. Commonly-used = short (strongly implied by the article above). Short is great, and English is so easy to learn in part because it has short words. But commonly used words do not exactly overlap with short words. For example, words like “community”, “important”, “administration”, and “particularly” (which is particularly useless) are in top 1000 by use and words like “fit” or “jump” are not (http://www.wordfrequency.info/free.asp)
  2. The assumption that 1000 words is a good number does not seem correct. The argument for 1000 is that “a 6-year-old should understand it”. Well, give people more credit — average 6-yo knows 10k-15k words (different studies give different numbers), and they definitely know words like “fall”, “finger”, “bird”, “sky” and many others that did not make the 1000 cut (at least in this list http://www.wordfrequency.info/free.asp). Similarly with EFLs — they quickly get above 1000 words to 4K+ or to 10K+ if living in an English-speaking country. And the words they learn first are not the words most frequently used. Using smaller vocabulary improves clarity up to a certain point but then using an even smaller set of words means having to use more words to communicate something accurately. That results in long and unclear sentences. Using an analogy, try sorting 5 binary numbers between 0 and 255, 5 decimal equivalents and 5 hex equivalents. Even the seemingly more complex and unfamiliar to most hex will be faster that binary for most people. Why? Because there are fewer “words” needed to communicate the same amount of information.
  3. Commonly used = commonly known. One word used 1000 times by 10 people is less commonly known and understood than a word used 200 times by 100 people.
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