chapter  8
5 Pages

Classification and Taxonomy

Robert Petsch, at the end of his analytical study of riddle's structure, placed a brief Addendum in which he offered a program for future collectors. He commended Richard Wossidlo's turning his back on the answers and classifying riddles according to stylistic features associated with the instrumental object, that is, those which are employed as descriptive motifs in the question. The presence of a systematic and compact kinship among the riddles descriptions could not be inferred from any classification based on the recorded answers. The very shift of the classificational focus from the answer to the description, without looking back, was highly consequential. At this point the classificational efforts progress from the means of cataloguing to taxonomy, that is, they permit a certain juxtaposition of the multiplicity of its forms, which is pregnant with comparative possibilities. The remedy was to find some cogent principle for classification.