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Re: [ontolog-forum] notes and rumours

To: Waclaw Kusnierczyk <Waclaw.Marcin.Kusnierczyk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: Ontolog Forum <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2007 11:22:43 -0500
Message-id: <p06230906c2b022af242e@[]>
>Pat Hayes wrote:
>>I would translate both 'siny' and 'niebieski' as 'blue' and 
>>'blekitny' as 'pastel blue' or 'sky blue' or 'light blue' depending 
>>on the context, unless a more precise translation were important. 
>>English refers to frozen people having blue lips. This kind of 
>>phenomenon is common, almost universal: different cultures and 
>>languages carve up the color space into different named regions. 
>>(The same happens with, for example, spatial prepositions: Dutch 
>>has a version of 'in' which applies only to the case of a tight or 
>>exact fit.) Nevertheless, the choice of the prototypical colors is, 
>>apparently, not cultural. A Pole will draw a different boundary 
>>around 'niebieski' than an Englishman will around 'blue', but if 
>>you ask them to choose one color point to be the most 
>>representative such color, they will choose the same one. Everyone 
>>on the planet will choose fire-engine red, alarm yellow and 
>>policeman-blue as the most typical or characteristic colors.
>Much as this may seem likely, claims such as 'a Pole will' and 
>'everyone will' beg for more reference than mere intuition.    (01)

Well-known empirical results in psychology. I believe the pioneering 
work was done by Eleanor Rosch in 1975.    (02)

Rosch, E. (1975). The nature of mental codes for color categories. J. 
Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 1, 303-322    (03)

Since then the basic thesis has been confirmed in several ways, eg 
color memory tends to drift towards the prototypes (Rosch's term is 
'focal color') , prototype colors give strongest linguistic priming 
effects, etc... It seems clear that some kind of built-in neural(?) 
mechanism is at work. Still, there are also of course many cultural 
determinants of color vocabularies and usages. I just saw this 
collection, for example, which looks fascinating:
http://www.benjamins.com/cgi-bin/t_bookview.cgi?bookid=Z%20137    (04)

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