An application of the general sense of this term in biosystematics, to refer to an approach to linguistic analysis and description which is predominantly or exclusively concerned with classification. The basis of classification may be diachronic, areal, typological, functional, etc., and the entities being classified may be linguistic features, items, units, structures – or whole varieties, dialects or languages. The notion of taxonomy has been fruitfully applied in many areas of linguistics (sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, semantics and computational linguistics in particular). The limitations of a taxonomic approach in linguistic analysis have, however, been emphasized by generative linguists, who have criticized the overreliance of structuralist (or ‘taxonomic’) linguistics on procedures of segmentation and classification. In particular, the use of this label is intended to indicate the inability of structural linguistics to provide a level of explanation in terms of deep structure. Such phrases as ‘taxonomic phonology’, ‘taxonomic syntax’, etc., when used in generative linguistics, invariably have a pejorative implication.