Folk taxonomy  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
A folk taxonomy is a vernacular naming system, and can be contrasted with scientific taxonomy.

Folk taxonomies are generated from social knowledge and are used in everyday speech. They are distinguished from scientific taxonomies that claim to be disembedded from social relations and thus objective and universal.

Anthropologists have observed that taxonomies are generally embedded in local cultural and social systems, and serve various social functions. Perhaps the most well-known and influential study of folk taxonomies is Émile Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of Religious Life.

Folk taxonomies exist to allow popular identification of classes of objects, and apply to all areas of human activity. All parts of the world have their own systems of naming local plants and animals. These naming systems are a vital aid to survival and include information such as the fruiting patterns of trees and the habits of large mammals. These localised naming systems are folk taxonomies. Theophrastus recorded evidence of a Greek folk taxonomy for plants, but later formalized botanical taxonomies were laid out in the 18th century by Carolus Linnaeus.

Critics of the concept of "race" in humans argue that race is a folk taxonomy rather than a scientific classification.

Although both involve observations of the stars and celestial bodies, astrology is a folk taxonomy, while astronomy uses a scientific classification system.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Folk taxonomy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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