apples are not a “kind of fruit”: the semantics of human categorization

ANNA WIERZBICKA*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper examines the semantic structure of English classificatory terms in the area of concrete lexicon, linking differences in semantic structure with differences in grammatical characteristics of different classes of nouns. I argue that in recent literature on human categorization the strictly taxonomic categories (i.e., categories based on hierarchies of kinds) have not been distinguished from other types of categories. I discuss four types of supercategory that do not stand for “a kind of thing”: two different types of collective supercategories that stand for heterogeneous collections of things, a supercategory that stands for heterogeneous classes of materials, and a supercategory of purely functional concepts. [semantics, categorization, taxonomy, ethnobiology, cognition] 1984 American Anthropological Association

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-328
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Ethnologist
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 1984

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