Language, Concepts, and Classification

Language is our basic tool of thought and speech. A word is the linguistic vehicle we use to express a concept.

Concepts are ideas that represent classes of things we have grouped together. Concepts function as mental file folders.

The things that are put in a mental file folder are called the referents of the concept.

Classification consists of organizing a set of things into groups by using concepts.

Example:

The word "dog" refers to the concept DOG, whereas all the individual dogs in the world are referents of the concept DOG. All the referents of the concept DOG can be placed in one group and distinguished from the referents of other concepts, such as CAT, that are placed in other groups.


Comprehension Questions

1 Something that represents classes of things that we have grouped together is called
a) a concept
b) a referent
c) a genus
d) a species
2 A thing that is put into a mental file folder and hence falls under a concept is called
a) a concept
b) a referent
c) a genus
d) a species
3 When all the referents of one concept are included in another but one concept refers to more things than the other, then the broader concept is called
a) a concept
b) a referent
c) a genus
d) a species
4 When all the referents of one concept are included in another but one concept refers to more things than the other, then the narrower concept is called
a) a concept
b) a referent
c) a genus
d) a species


Genus and Species

© Copyright 1998, W.W. Norton & Co.