Robert E. MacLaury
Table of contents

Taxonomy, in the present context, is largely an anthropological linguistic interest in categorization. It affords a fluid interface with psychologists, linguists, anthropologists, and other specialists concerned with the crosscultural comparison of ways that lexically labelled categories are internally organized and related to each other within a domain. Certain linguistic anthropologists have specialized in one or another of the ubiquitous domains, such as plant classification or color terms (Berlin 1992; MacLaury 1995), where they have established replicable elicitation procedures, demonstrated widely recurrent patterns among categories, proposed models of processes and systems that may explain the patterns, and attempted to test the models for cognitive validity. The domain-specific concentrations have brought methodology to the forefront of taxonomy, setting it apart from non-numerical approaches to categorization (Lakoff 1987; Turner 1967; Lévi-Strauss 1966). Other rubrics of the method-oriented program are ethnoscience (Sturtevant 1964), ethnographic semantics (Colby 1966), and folk classification (Conklin 1972). Taxonomy fits under the umbrella of cognitive anthropology, which highlights additional processes, such as decision making (Young & Garro 1994), that need not be linguistic.

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