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Color Terms

From:Ed Heil <edheil@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 27, 1999, 3:44
See this web site:

for some info on classic work on color terms, which was conducted by
showing speakers of different languages a wilde variety of color chips
and asking them to choose the ones that are representative of the
basic color terms in their languages.

It seems that there are eleven basic focal colors that humans all
consider independent and perceptually salient.  Even when a language
has a term that covers more than one of these colors, e.g. a term
which includes blue and green, speakers of that language do *not* tend
to choose a blue-green color as a good representative of that term; on
the contrary they choose a blue or a green; and not just any blue or
green, but the exact blue or green that a speaker of English or French
would call "blue" or "bleu" or "green" or "vert"!

So there are certain "built in" color foci in human vision, and
languages may or may not have individual names for all of them (and
may or may not also have non-basic color terms, which cover particular
shades or sub-categories of the "basic" ones).

Er, read the article.  It's really classic work, and it's written up
better than I could explain it and it shows the color chips.

Ed Heil -------------------------------
"Facts are meaningless! You can use facts to prove anything
   that's even _remotely_ true!"           -- Homer Simpson

Barry Garcia wrote:

> writes: > >Oh, you'd be surprised. Afterall, there are languages in Paupua New > >Guinea > >which have only two colors, basicly meaning "light" and "dark". The idea > >is not that a language *can't* not indicate a given meaning, but
that the
> >*probability* is that it can. > > > In Tagalog, there are very few main colors. Red, yellow, blue, green, > black, white, brown (but only used for people), are the only main colors > they recognize. I have heard relatives calling a pink shirt "red", or a > green-blue blanket "blue" or "green", and even heard the phrase: > "Pirutusin mo iyon hanggang pumula" - fry that until it is golden brown > (pumula comes from "pula" or "red" and is treated as a verb, i think). > It's not that Filipinos cant tell pink from red, or golden grown from red, > it's that there just arent terms for those colors, so they use colors that > are similar. Often if something is a color that isn't in tagalog, they say > the color of + object with a similar color: "Kulay tsokolate" = chocolate > colored. > > > ____________________________________________________________________ > > "I found love on a two way street, and lost it on a lonely highway" > ____________________________________________________________________ >