I am continuing to read on classification which is a fascinating topic. Not all classifications are enhaustive; some depend on a large class of miscellany, others are partial classifications and these may work depending on the context and list of terms.
The scholar Carl Darling Buck wrote A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal European Languages in 1949. It’s a fascinating book that has groupings of words and examines the etymologies (origins) of the words in multiple Indo-European languages such as Sanskrit, Latin, , Greek, Old Norse, German, Russian, and Spanish. For example, the word “oar” is “aritra”, remus, eretmon, raethi, ruder, veslo and remo. Most of the “rem” words come from the Sanskrit meaning “to row” while the Russian “veslo” is similar to Latin “veho” as in vehicle meaning “to move or carry”. So two sources seem to be “rowing” or “moving”. Each of the individual entries rolls up to a category (oar is grouped with rudder, mast, sail, raft, boat) in the category Motion: Locomotion, Transportation, Navigation. This chapter doesn’t roll up to anything, but would be interesting if if did. I was curious by Buck did not impose a hierarchy of chapters as Roget did in the Thesaurus or Dewey did with the Dewey Decimal System. For then etymology would give us fundamental ideas that were universal and organized in a hierarchy.
Buck’s answer in the preface is that he thought of using a hierarchical classification, but didn’t when he looked at Roget’s ordering. For Motion in Roget’s thesaurus includes “food” and “eat”, and so would include a lot of miscellaneous items. So he chose instead to group related words together, even if arbitrary, but not to group the chapters. With an alphabetical index, the author thought a person would be able to find a particular word etymology.
Here’s a list of the top chapter headings:
The Physical World in Its Larger Aspects
2. Mankind: Sex, Age, Family Relationship
4. Parts of the Body; Bodily Functions and Conditions
5. Food and Drink; Cooking and Utensils
6. Clothing; Personal Adornment and Care
7. Dwelling, House, Furniture
8. Agriculture, Vegetation
9. Miscellaneous Physical Acts and Those Pertaining to Special Arts and Crafts, with Some Implements, Materials, and Products; Other Miscellaneous Notions
10. Motion; Locomotion, Transportation, Navigation
11. Possession, Property, and Commerce
12. Spatial Relations; Place, Form, Size
13. Quantity and Number
15. Sense Perception
16. Emotion (with Some Physical Expressions of Emotion); Temperamental, Moral, and Aesthetic Notions
17. Mind, Thought
18. Vocal Utterance, Speech; Reading and Writing
19. Territorial, Social, and Political Divisions; Social Relations
22. Religion and Superstition