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Firstly, just as an aside, if you're searching for a whole word/token, you don't need to use the wildcard '%' with Oracle Text.
Secondly, Oracle Text indexes using [url http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E11882_01/text.112/e24435/ind.htm#CIHCGIEA]STOPLISTS, e.g. http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E11882_01/text.112/e24436/astopsup.htm, which are designed to avoid indexing low value words - i.e. words that you wouldn't normally want to search on. If you want to index these then you can turn off the stoplist. Your indexes will be bigger of course.
Thanks Dom. I did not realize there were so many words in the stoplist. For our application we want to give the user as much freedom as they want (i know, trusting the user is crazy) so using the empty stoplist seems to be the best solution at the moment. The size is not a problem and the speed is still better than LIKE statements.