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Colour Terms in Catalan: An Investigation of Eighty Informants, Concentrating on the Purple and Blue Regions

Davies, IanR. L., Corbett, Greville G. and Margalef, José B. (1995) Colour Terms in Catalan: An Investigation of Eighty Informants, Concentrating on the Purple and Blue Regions Transactions of the Philological Society, 93. pp. 17-49.


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We set out to establish the 'basic' colour term inventory of Catalan, and to see if the inventory was consistent with Berlin and Kay's theory of colour universals. Pilot work had indicated that, like Russian, Catalan might have more than the maximum eleven 'permissible' basic colour terms allowed by Berlin and Kay's theory, and have more than one basic term for blue. A sample of adults and a sample of children performed a colour list task (in which they were asked to give as many colour terms as they knew) and a colour naming task. The list task provided a general indication of the likely basic colour terms, and the naming task indicated the referents of these terms. The results show that Catalan is best described as a standard stage seven Berlin and Kay language with just eleven basic colour terms. However, it has more than one salient term in the blue region and these correpond to the exceptional blue terms of Russian. Furthermore, whilst Catalan has a basic term for purple, its focus is unusually displaced from Berlin and Kay's 'universal' focus for purple, and this may be related to the way in which Catalan segments the blue region.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Literature and Languages > English > Surrey Morphology Group
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Davies, IanR.
Corbett, Greville
Margalef, José B.
Date : 1 January 1995
DOI : 10.1111/j.1467-968X.1995.tb00435.x
Additional Information : Published in Transactions of the Philological Society, 93, 17-49. The definitive version is available at, and may be accessed here.
Depositing User : Mr Adam Field
Date Deposited : 27 May 2010 14:40
Last Modified : 16 Jan 2019 16:21

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