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Languages & Linguistics

Build the Open Shelves Classification

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Feb 23, 2009, 11:55am Top

Includes general works on language, the English language in particular, and works on disciplines closely related to language arts. Includes language dictionaries. Place non-language dictionaries under their appropriate topic.

Mar 6, 2009, 8:50am Top

I'm home with a cold. Might as well take a crack at this.

General linguistics and linguistic theory
- Philology
- Structuralism
- Transformation grammar
- Phonology
- Morphology
- Grammar and Syntax
- Semantics
- Etc.

- Ebonics
- Etc.

Applied Linguistics - Everything that comes across my desk with the Dewey applied linguistics number looks like education to both me and the Education specialist. Anyone have an argument for leaving all or part of it here?

Languages (following Bernard Comrie's The World's Major Languages with additions for non-major ones commonly found in public libraries (at least in the Northeastern US)

- Germanic
-- English
-- Middle English
-- Anglo-Saxon
-- German
-- Dutch
-- Danish, Norwegian, Swedish
-- Other non-major ones
- Latin
- Romance
-- French
-- Spanish
-- Portuguese
-- Italian
-- Rumanian
-- Other non-major ones
- Slavonic
-- Russian
-- Polish
-- Czech and Slovak
-- Serbo-Croat
-- Other non-major
- Greek
-- Ancient Greek
-- Biblical Greek
-- Modern Greek
- Celtic
-- Irish
-- Welsh
-- Scots Gaelic
-- Sanskrit
-- Hindu-Urdu
-- Bengali
- Iranian
-- Persian
-- Pashto

- Hungarian
- Finnish

Turkic Languages
- Turkish

- Semetic
-- Hebrew
--- Biblical
--- Modern
-- Arabic
-- Ancient Egyptian
- Chadic
-- Hausa
- ?
-- Amharic

- Tamil

Southeast Asian Languages (Having consulted several reference books, I'm confused as to how these class. But here are the major U.S. immigrant languages (in my area at least)

- Vietnamese
- Khmer
- Lao
- Thai

- Chinese
- Tibetan
- Burmese

- Malay
- Tagalog
- Moari
- Australian aboriginal (?)
- Hawaiian
- Tahitian

- Yuruba
- Bantu Languages
-- Swahili
-- Xhosa
-- Zulu
-- Sotho

Indigenous languages of North and South America
- Alaskan-Aleut
- Na-Dene
- Amerind
-- Souixian
--- Lakota
--- Cherokee

Language Isolates
- Japanese
- Korean
- Basque

Constructed languages
- Gesture languages
-- American Sign Language
- Auxilary languages
-- Esperanto
-- Interlingua
-- Lojban
- Art languages
-- Tolkien's languages
-- Languages of Star Trek
--- Klingon

Semiotics (I'm pretty dim on this area)
- Theoretical semiotics
- Signs
-- International road signs and the like
- Writing (Calligraphy classed with crafts, Typeface design classed with Art and design, Computer codings of writing systems and typefaces with Computers)
-- Alphabetic
--- Roman
--- Greek
--- Russian
--- Etc
-- Syllabic
-- Consonental
--- Hebrew
--- Arabic
-- Logographic
--- Chinese
-- Mixed
--- Japanese

Mar 6, 2009, 5:35pm Top

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Mar 6, 2009, 8:01pm Top

Don't forget ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs - lots of books on those.

Mar 6, 2009, 9:07pm Top

You might consider categories like:

Historical Linguistics
Comparative linguistics

These two might go together. Books on super-language families would go here (such as Nostractic or Joseph Greenberg's Eurasiatic)

I would probably put morphology and grammar together.

Dialect studies should be someplace.

By languages, I presume we mean textbooks, phrase books, dictionaries (Lang X to Lang Y).

Mar 7, 2009, 12:00pm Top


Due to traffic on other lists, I tried not to make too many subcategories in General. The first three are a rough history of linguistic thought. The next are breakdowns in the way to study linguistics. You folks should feel free to revise.


Anyone know how to classify these? From the last reading I did on the subject, I would say Mixed, but the article I was reading was pretty dated.

Historical Linguistics/Comparative linguistics

I don't know anything about these. Where should they go?

I would probably put morphology and grammar together.

You don't live with my husband. If folks feel strongly about that, feel free. I just don't want to have to say I did it.

Dialect studies

Either under sociolinguistics or the language itself depending on the focus of the book. If that won't work, then I'm not familiar with the type of books you mean.

By languages, I presume we mean textbooks, phrase books, dictionaries (Lang X to Lang Y)

We mean books about language/s, not books in a language. So

Teach Yourself Swahili
Origins of the English Language
African Languages: an Introduction

Mar 7, 2009, 12:18pm Top

Historical Linguistics/Comparative might be a separate category.

Morphology and grammar may be separate ideas, but if one wants an intro to a specific small language's morphology, the best place to go is a grammar.

I agree about dialect studies

For dictionaries, where does a French-Italian dictionary go?

I would put hieroglyphs under writing systems.

Mar 8, 2009, 10:08am Top


The general categories are for the general study of morphology and grammar from a linguistic stand point. When I took linguistics, they were studied in separate courses, though I see from some of the books we have in the house that it's very hard to talk about grammar without reference to morphology.

Grammars of a particular language are under the language

For dictionaries, where does a French-Italian dictionary go?

The quick answer is that U.S. public libraries don't buy them. Mostly they buy English/Language X dictionaries, which go with Language X. There should be a section in General for dictionaries with more than two languages (the technical term is polyglot dictionaries)

This does bring up the larger question of whether this schedule should be slanted to English speakers (as Dewey is and the one I've proposed is), or do we want a more general approach, or perhaps an approach where a library picks a "home" language and then other stuff gets put in place?

I would put hieroglyphs under writing systems.

Right. But I broke writing systems down into alphabet, syllabic, consonental, logographic and mixed. From the little I know about hieroglyphs they started out logographic and became consonental. Does that make them consonental or mixed?

As a general complaint, I think the problems with hieroglyphs and morphology/grammar show the difficulty in trying to make a subject classification scheme without subject experts. The patrons may not understand the theory behind the scheme, but they really don't want all books on writing systems thrown together on the shelves in alphabetical order by author or script name either. They want them arranged in some way that helps them in a discovery process. "Oh, look Arabic is next to Hebrew. I wonder if they're related." Only experts can provide that kind of context.

Mar 8, 2009, 3:34pm Top

The Wikipedia Linguistics portal has an interesting breakdown of subjects within it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Linguistics
I have always thought of "grammar" as a loose umbrella term for both morphology and syntax. So, for me, morphology can stand on its own. And people who write generally (i.e. not specific to a language) about these two usually don't put them together.

For hieroglyphs, my populist mind would say to leave them as logographic.

To some degree LTers have selected a home language, and perhaps OSC should complement that. But people/libraries with an outlier book should be able to classify them somewhere, and a General area would work.

I agree that there is a slight tension in what we do between learning/teaching and finding.

Mar 8, 2009, 3:38pm Top

I took a look at Wikipedia's Outline of linguistics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_basic_linguistics_topics

It's a considerably different arrangement, and it distinguishes between morphology, grammar, and syntax.

Mar 9, 2009, 3:54pm Top

I think hieroglyphs would be mixed. There is a small group of symbols which stand for one consonant (monoliterals), a very much larger group that stands for two consonants (biliterals), a large group that stand for three consonants (triliterals). It doesn't really work the same way syllabic systems do; e.g. Japanese characters mostly stand for a consonant and a vowel, but the Ancient Egyptians didn't write down vowels, much the same as in Hebrew.

Mar 9, 2009, 6:43pm Top

>9 vpfluke:

I do find it confusing whether we're just supposed to be handling the needs of the average public library and leaving out subjects that they would be extremely unlikely to collect (for instance from your wikipedia list: Corpus linquistics, a very highly specialized area that only a college supporting graduate work in linguistics is likely to have). But your point about what to do about the outlier book is a good one. I think this will have to be decided by someone else.

Do you want to mess around with the lists from Wikipedia and make a more comprehensive proposal for the Linguistics area? I'm getting busy with a project outside LT and will have to curtail the amount of time I've been spending on this.

Mar 20, 2009, 10:46am Top

Please check out this thread (http://www.librarything.com/topic/60594) for a link to the new OSC blog and a call for specific volunteer involvement. Thanks!


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