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Meaning of rank scale

rank' scale"

Pronunciation: [key]
— Ling. Ling.
  1. (in systemic linguistics) a hierarchical ordering of grammatical units such that a unit of a given rank normally consists of units of the next lower rank, as, in English, the ordering sentence, clause, group or phrase, word, morpheme.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.