Cognitive Linguistics
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Project Categorization
Aristotelian category
Category boundaries
Levels of categorization
Basic level
Category-wide attribute
Collective function
Subordinate level
Superordinate level
Parasitic categorization
Prototype category
Bad member
Degree of membership
Flexible adaptability
Goodness of exemplar
Good member
Informational density
Radial structure
Structural stability
Class inclusion
Degree of generality
Expert taxonomy
Folk taxonomy
Multiple parenting
Scientific taxonomy

Folk taxonomies, or experiential hierarchies, are taxonomies that are part of the common ground of a standard speech community. Prototype categores are essentially folk taxonomies.

Experiential basis[]

Folk taxonomies are based on the speech community members' interaction with the surrounding world. Typically, the units that incude the most subordinate units are place in the middle level of the taxonomy, while the units at the superordinate level and subordinate level of a folk taxonomy subsume less units. Folk taxonomies typically focus on the middle level, because it is culturally salient and sometimes rooted in basic biological needs.

Folk taxonomies and language[]

Typically the forms that are used as labels for middle level units are morphologically simple in relation to those that serve as labels for superodrinate and subordinate units. Moreover, middle level units are readily available in communication, as they normally come first ti mind in categorizing or naming situations and experiences.


  • Ungerer, Friedrich & Hans-Jörg Schmid (1996). An Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics. London: Longman.
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