differences left out are not important to us. But when we talk about Paroled Prisoner #157, Negro, a knowledge of the similarities that are compressed in the words "paroled prisoner" won't help us a bit to judge his fitness for a job. We will want to know all we can about himabout his personal background, his family, his attitudes toward life, his skills, etc. We will try, by the use of words, to get as close as we can to his individual uniqueness. Only so can we differentiate between Paroled Prisoner #157 and every other paroled prisoner. But, however many words we use, we can never tell all about Paroled Prisoner #157. The verbal world is not the actual worldand there is an unbridgeable gulf between the two.20 This the student of General Semantics never forgets.
The word "stereotype" is an Important one in the literature of semantics. It is associated with "permanent" judgments that attach to an individual member of a class. A stereotype is, of course, used in printing. It is "a one-piece plate cast in type from a mold." But human beings do not have "unvarying form or pattern." We shatter the stereotype "Negro" by affixing the index; we shatter the stereotype "prisoner" by affixing the index. We break the "plate cast"; we break the unvarying verbal pattern by affixing the index.
When we talk about groups of human beings, we must be even more careful to index the individual members of the group. This is the only way that we can point to the uniqueness of every member of the class.
When we talk about Hungarians, or Arabs, or Jews, or Catholics, or Protestants, or Negroes, or teachers, or
20 See Section 25 below, The Vertical Index for a More Mature Humanity of Words.