Collocative Integrity and Our Many Varied Subjects: What the Metric of Alignment between Classification Scheme and Indexer Tells Us About Langridge’s Theory of Indexing

Joseph T. Tennis


As the universe of knowledge and subjects change over time, indexing languages like classification schemes, accommodate that change by restructuring. Restructuring indexing languages affects indexer and cataloguer work. Subjects may split or lump together. They may disappear only to reappear later. And new subjects may emerge that were assumed to be already present, but not clearly articulated (Miksa, 1998). In this context we have the complex relationship between the indexing language, the text being described, and the already described collection (Tennis, 2007). It is possible to imagine indexers placing a document into an outdated class, because it is the one they have already used for their collection. However, doing this erases the semantics in the present indexing language. Given this range of choice in the context of indexing language change, the question arises, what does this look like in practice? How often does this occur? Further, what does this phenomenon tell us about subjects in indexing languages? Does the practice we observe in the reaction to indexing language change provide us evidence of conceptual models of subjects and subject creation? If it is incomplete, but gets us close, what evidence do we still require?

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