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A contrast set is a bounded collection of items, each of which could fill the same slot in a given
schema The word schema comes from the Greek word ('), which means ''shape'', or more generally, ''plan''. The plural is ('). In English, both ''schemas'' and ''schemata'' are used as plural forms. Schema may refer to: Science and technology * SCHEMA ...
, syntactic structure, or other linguistic environment. The seven days of the week, the fifty United States, the eight Hawaiian islands, the letters in the alphabet, the categories "male" and "female," the students in a class, or the flavors on offer at an ice cream store are all examples of contrast sets. Contrast sets may be relatively natural in origin (such as the eight Hawaiian islands) or relatively conventional (such as the fifty United States). The mastery of certain conventional contrast sets is essential to basic socialization: for example, calendrical units,
musical notes In music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concep ...

musical notes
, and elements of writing systems like
numerals A numeral is a figure, symbol, or group of figures or symbols denoting a number. It may refer to: * Numeral system used in mathematics * Numeral (linguistics), a part of speech denoting numbers (e.g. ''one'' and ''first'' in English) * Numerical di ...
and the
alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semanti ...

alphabet
. These contrast sets frequently become the subject of
synesthesia Synesthesia (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. ...

synesthesia
s. Linguistic anthropologists
Harold Conklin Harold "Hal" Colyer Conklin (April 27, 1926 – February 18, 2016) was an American anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, ...
and Charles Frake were the first to work out the concept of the contrast set in the 1950s, and the concept was described in detail in Frake's article "The ethnographic study of cognitive systems." The Google Sets program attempts to generate a list of the members of a contrast set given a few starter members.labs.google.com/sets
In recent years, the term contrast set has been used extensively in the field of
data mining Data mining is a process of extracting and discovering patterns in large data set A data set (or dataset) is a collection of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sens ...
.


References

Anthropology Linguistics Structuralism {{Anthropology-stub