Concept of ‘subject’ in the context of library and information science from a new angle

Dutta, Bidyarthi ; Dutta, Chaitali


The concept of subject as expounded in library and information science (LIS) has been interpreted here from the standpoint of the concept of word in linguistics. Both the concepts have been thoroughly reviewed. It has been observed that the concept of subject so long conceived by different researchers in LIS is basically preceded by the concept of document. The description of subject, therefore in most cases, by default becomes incumbent within the concept of document. Since the document is a macroscopic entity, therefore document-dependent description of subject naturally portrays a macroscopic layout of the same. This paper attempts to develop a document-independent description of subject, which is based on semantically-related words within the domain of appropriate context. According to this new description, the subject would eventually become definable as sets of well-defined and semantically-related words that may be regarded as microscopic description. It has also been found out that the seed of document-independent and word-based definition of subject was already sown in the concept of semantic field, a domain under the subject linguistics. This concept was incepted by Trier and subsequently modified by Lehrer. It has been logically established that the idea of foci incepted by Ranganathan and the idea of semantic field incepted and modified by Trier and Lehrer respectively are conceptually equivalent. A subject may therefore be described as sets of semantic fields and, in turn as sets of words.


Linguistic interpretation of subject; Semantic field; Semantics; Foci; Facet; Macroscopic subject; Microscopic subject; Linguistics; Universe of subjects

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