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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter discusses the origins and development of thematically organized thesauri with particular reference to English. Dictionaries of synonyms are also covered. Compilation of thesauri, for example Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases and the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, raises a variety of theoretical and practical issues. These include problems posed for thesaurus-makers by synonymy and polysemy in natural languages, leading to consideration of Wilkins’ philosophical language and other approaches to universalism. The chapter concludes with a discussion of whether the scheme of classification for a thesaurus should be worked out in advance or developed from the words in the lexicon. Throughout the chapter there is a concern with the relationship between words and the ‘things and notions’ they denote in the external world.

Keywords: classification, polysemy, synonymy, thesaurus, universalism, philosophical languages, words and things

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