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ERIC Number: ED019655
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: N/A
Pages: 79
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
UNIVERSALITY AND EVOLUTION OF BASIC COLOR TERMS. WORKING PAPER NUMBER 1.
BERLIN, BRENT; KAY, PAUL
THE RESEARCH REPORTED IN THIS WORKING PAPER "STRONGLY INDICATES" THAT SEMANTIC UNIVERSALS HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED IN THE DOMAIN OF COLOR VOCABULARY. MOREOVER, THESE UNIVERSALS APPEAR TO BE RELATED TO THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF ALL LANGUAGES IN A WAY THAT CAN PROPERLY BE TERMED EVOLUTIONARY. THE RESEARCH WAS CONDUCTED IN A GRADUATE SEMINAR GIVEN IN THE DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY. STUDENTS AND THE AUTHORS SYSTEMATICALLY COLLECTED DATA FROM SEVERAL INFORMANTS IN EACH OF SEVENTEEN LANGUAGES FROM A NUMBER OF UNRELATED LANGUAGE FAMILIES. AN ADDITIONAL THREE LANGUAGES WERE INVESTIGATED IN DETAIL AFTER THE ORIGINAL RESEARCH SEMINAR WAS COMPLETED. THESE MATERIALS FROM TWENTY LANGUAGES WERE SUPPLEMENTED BY COMPARATIVE DATA FROM THE LITERATURE, BRINGING THE SAMPLE OF LANGUAGES TO 80 REPRESENTING A WIDE VARIETY OF MAJOR LINGUISTIC STOCKS. THE SEMINAR WAS DESIGNED AS AN EXPERIMENTAL TEST OF THE FOLLOWING, LOOSELY STATED HYPOTHESIS--THE PREVAILING DOCTRINE OF AMERICAN LINGUISTS AND ANTHROPOLOGISTS HAS, IN THIS CENTURY, BEEN THAT OF EXTREME LINGUISTIC RELATIVITY. PROPONENTS OF THIS VIEW FREQUENTLY OFFER AS A PARADIGM EXAMPLE THE ALLEGED TOTAL SEMANTIC ARBITRARINESS OF THE LEXICAL CODING OF COLOR. THE AUTHORS FEEL THAT THIS ALLEGATION OF "TOTAL ARBITRARINESS" IN THE WAY LANGUAGES SEGMENT THE COLOR SPACE IS A "GROSS OVERSTATEMENT." THEIR HYPOTHESIS WAS BASED ON INTUITIVE EXPERIENCE IN SEVERAL LANGUAGES OF THREE UNRELATED MAJOR STOCKS. THEIR FEELING WAS THAT COLOR WORDS TRANSLATED RATHER TOO EASILY AMONG VARIOUS PAIRS OF UNRELATED LANGUAGES FOR THE EXTREME LINGUISTIC RELATIVITY THESIS TO BE VALID. THEIR RESULTS SUPPORT THE ABOVE HYPOTHESIS AND CAST DOUBT ON THE COMMONLY HELD BELIEF THAT EACH LANGUAGE SEGMENTS THE THREE DIMENSIONAL COLOR CONTINUUM ARBITRARILY AND INDEPENDENTLY. THEY SUGGEST THAT ALTHOUGH DIFFERENT LANGUAGES ENCODE IN THEIR LEXICONS DIFFERENT NUMBERS OF BASIC COLOR CATEGORIES, THERE EXISTS UNIVERSALLY A TOTAL INVENTORY OF 11 BASIC COLOR CATEGORIES FROM WHICH THE 11 OR FEWER BASIC COLOR TERMS OF ANY GIVEN LANGUAGE ARE ALWAYS DRAWN--THESE CATEGORIES BEING WHITE, BLACK, RED, GREEN, YELLOW, BLUE, BROWN, PINK, ORANGE, AND GREY. (AMM)
Publication Type: N/A
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: N/A
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: California Univ., Berkeley. Language and Behavior Research Lab.
Identifiers: BASIC COLOR TERMS