Chapter published in:Progress in Colour Studies: Cognition, language and beyond
Edited by Lindsay W. MacDonald, Carole P. Biggam and Galina V. Paramei
[Not in series 217] 2018
► pp. 167–178
Is it all guesswork?
Translating colour terms across the centuries
Addressed to non-semanticists, this article discusses the means by which colour semanticists strive to pursue their research with as much objectivity as possible. Three functions of colour terms are presented: descriptive, classificatory and connotative, showing that colour expressions operate differently in various semantic environments. In addition, lexical meanings can change over the years, as a result, for example, of semantic shift or contact with other languages, and this is likely to render inappropriate the application of modern colour-term definitions to their historical antecedents. Finally, a connotative case-study of hair-colour descriptors in English across the centuries reveals that words operating in restricted contexts can convey more than colour.
Keywords: colour, semantic research, English, connotations
Published online: 26 November 2018
Anglo-Norman Dictionary (AND)
Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (HTOED)
2009, by Christian Kay, Jane Roberts, Michael Samuels, and Irené Wotherspoon. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Also: http://public.oed.com/historical-thesaurus-of-the-oed/
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Biggam, C. P.