Stretching conceptual structures in classifications across languages and cultures

Barbara H. Kwaśnik, Victoria L. Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The authors describe the difficulties of translating classifications from a source language and culture to another language and culture. To demonstrate these problems, kinship terms and concepts from native speakers of fourteen languages were collected and analyzed to find differences between their terms and structures and those used in English. Using the representations of kinship terms in the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) and the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) as examples, the authors identified the source of possible lack of mapping between the domain of kinship in the fourteen languages studied and the LCC and DDC. Finally, some preliminary suggestions for how to make translated classifications more linguistically and culturally hospitable are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-47
Number of pages15
JournalCataloging and Classification Quarterly
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Classification
  • Cultural hospitality
  • Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC)
  • Library of Congress Classification (LCC)
  • Translation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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