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Distributed for Center for the Study of Language and Information

Basic Color Terms

Their Universality and Evolution

The work reported in this monograph was begun in the winter of 1967 in a graduate seminar at Berkeley. Many of the basic data were gathered by members of the seminar and the theoretical framework presented here was initially developed in the context of the seminar discussions.

Much has been discovered since1969, the date of original publication, regarding the psychophysical and neurophysical determinants of universal, cross-linguistic constraints on the shape of basic color lexicons, and something, albeit less, can now also be said with some confidence regarding the constraining effects of these language-independent processes of color perception and conceptualization on the direction of evolution of basic color term lexicons.

210 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1969, 1991

The David Hume Series

Cognitive Science: Language

Language and Linguistics: Anthropological/Sociological Aspects of Language, General Language and Linguistics

Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition
1. The Data, Hypothesis, and General Findings
1.1 Procedure
1.2 Defining the concept of basic color term
1.3 Mapping basic color terms
1.4 Universality of basic color terms
1.5 Inter-language versus inter-informant variability
1.6 Category foci versus category boundaries
2. Evolution of Basic Color Terms
2.1 Basic color lexicon and technological/cultural complexity
2.2 The seven stages in the evolution of basic color terms
2.3 Some typical systems
2.4 Internal reconstruction of basic color terms
2.5 Problematical cases
3. The Data
3.1 Stage I systems
3.2 Stage II systems
3.3 Stage III systems
3.4 Stage IV systems
3.5 Stage V systems
3.6 Stage VI systems
3.7 Stage VII systems
4. Summary of Results and Some Speculations
APPENDIX I. Terms and mappings for twenty experimentally investigated languages
APPENDIX II. The growth of color vocabulary: one hundred years of theory
APPENDIX III. Alphabetical list of languages treated, indicating stage, number of terms, and source
APPENDIX IV. Standard authorities for the orthographies of cited languages
References Cited
Bibliography of Color Categorization Research 1970-1990 by Luisa Maffi

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