Facet Analysis Using Grammar

Rick Szostak


Basic grammar can achieve most/all of the goals of facet analysis without requiring the use of facet indicators. Facet analysis is thus rendered far simpler for classificationist, classifier, and user. We compare facet analysis and grammar, and show how various facets can be represented grammatically. We then address potential challenges in employing grammar as subject classification. A detailed review of basic grammar supports the hypothesis that it is feasible to usefully employ grammatical construction in subject classification. A manageable and programmable – set of adjustments is required as classifiers move fairly directly from sentences in a document (or object or idea) description to formulating a subject classification. The user likewise can move fairly quickly from a query to the identification of relevant works. A review of theories in linguistics indicates that a grammatical approach should reduce ambiguity while encouraging ease of use. This paper applies the recommended approach to a small sample of recently published books. It finds that the approach is feasible and results in a more precise subject description than the subject headings assigned at present. It then explores PRECIS, an indexing system developed in the 1970s. Though our approach differs from PRECIS in many important ways, the experience of PRECIS supports our conclusions regarding both feasibility and precision.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7152/nasko.v6i1.15244