Stability and change in the colour lexicon of the Japonic languages
Previous work on colour lexicons focussed on universal patterns in their structure and evolution. We collected new colour naming data in Japanese and three under-described Ryukyuan languages (Amami, Miyako and Yaeyama) to investigate semantic variation and change in the colour lexicon of related languages in a modern context. We found several new colour terms (e.g., midori and guriin for ‘green’) in the lexicon of Ryukyuan speakers, apparently resulting from contact with Standard Japanese and English. A comparison of our data with historical data suggests that modern Ryukyuan colour systems are closer to modern Japanese than they are to their historic pasts. However, we also found that modern-day Ryukyuan languages are more similar to each other than they are to Japanese. These findings show the scope of semantic changes that can occur through outside influence and highlight the need for fresh empirical data in the study of semantics in related languages.
- 1.General introduction
- 1.1The Japonic language family
- 1.2Studies on colour in the Japonic language family
- 1.3The current study
- 2.1Languages and speakers
- 2.2Materials and procedure
- 3.1Colour terms in contemporary Ryukyuan and Japanese
- 3.2Colour categories in contemporary Ryukyuan and Japanese
- 3.3Semantic variation in a core set of colour terms
- 3.3.1The aka ‘(macro) red’ cognate set
- 3.3.2The ki ‘yellow’ cognate set
- 3.3.3The ao ‘grue/blue’ cognate set
- 3.3.4The murasaki ‘purple’ cognate set
- 3.3.5Overall cluster analysis for the cognate sets
- 3.4Semantic change in the Ryukyuan colour lexicon
Published online: 13 July 2021
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