The growing awareness of the importance of variables, especially limitless variables, creates the need to find new terms for many scales or indices that have not so far been recognized, although their polarities have frequently been treated as dichotomous entities. Often enough there is only one word for such variables, a word that designates one extreme on a scale. The opposite extreme tends to be identified by a negative prefix, and no terms are available for intermediate positions on the scale, or for the scale itself. The increasing sophistication in social measurement is continually hampered by inability to designate scales and to measure positions, more because of a lack of terminology than because of inability to define these concepts. The emergence of new concepts is an important reason for recognizing and dealing with terminological shortages. However, a systematic analysis of concepts shows that the folk vocabulary leaves many familiar concepts without terms. The point can be readily illustrated by comparing languages, since the way in which one language handles concepts often differs from another. Many words retained in contemporary usage were invented long ago for concepts that have long since lost their original meanings, so that in modern applications they carry irrelevant or misleading connotations.
The problem of diffusion or distribution of terms requires separate recognition. When someone proposes a concept and a corresponding term, it often takes a long time for the idea to win acceptance. Perhaps even more frustration arises from the fact that the same idea often arises simultaneously in several places and is therefore assigned terms independently. The likelihood that the same expression will be chosen is, of course, remote. In each language, community, country or disciplinary cell, when a concept and term is invented, those who adopt it become its advocates and tend to resist strenuously the substitution of alternative terms that have been invented elsewhere. The connotations of words vary among cultural groups and countries even more sharply than their denotations. Consider, in this context, the diverse meanings attributed to the word "development". In addition to the various concepts attached to the word, there are differing connotations. In much of the world, the term continues to have a positive value, to be regarded as a good thing, whatever it is. But in the USA it has recently begun to acquire negative overtones. Under the influence of current stress on the environment, ecology and pollution, many people have begun to identify development with its unfortunate side-effects, namely the negative effects of economic growth and urbanization.