Quantitative treatment of the geological sciences must remain limited; there continues to be need for a language of words. This is keenly felt in stratigraphy, where the practising geologist is dismayed by the effusions of the stratigraphical philosophers. The situation, in so far as it appears to remain in some ways obscure or troublesome, is briefly reviewed in terms of lithostratigraphy. biostratigraphy. and chronostratigraphy. A revised version of a controversial diagram is presented, in which the role of the boundary stratotype as anchor point is believed to be clarified. Finally a synthesis is attempted of relationships between the various stratigraphical procedures and the provision of dates in years through the parallel discipline of geochronometry.