What is taxonomy?

A hierarchical or associative ordering of terms.

Examples of types of taxonomy

Examples of types of taxonomy

A taxonomy is a hierarchical or associative ordering of terms representing categories. A taxonomy takes the form of a tree or a graph in the mathematical sense. A taxonomy typically has minimal nodes, representing lowest or most specific categories in which no sub-categories are included as well as a top-most or maximal node or lattice, representing the maximum or general category.

What are folk taxonomies?

A category hierarchy with 5-6 levels that has its most cognitively basic categories in the middle.

Source: George Lakoff

Source: George Lakoff

In folk taxonomies, categories are not merely organized in a hierarchy from the most general to the most specific, but are also organized so that the categories that are most cognitively basic are “in the middle” of a general-to-specific hierarchy. Generalization proceeds upward from the basic level and specialization proceeds down.

A basic level category is somewhere in the middle of a hierarchy and is cognitively basic. It is the level that is learned earliest. Usually has a short name and is used frequently. It is the highest level at which a single mental image can reflect the category. Also, there is no definitive basic level for a hierarchy – it is dependent on the audience. Most of our knowledge is organized around basic level categories.

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