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. 301–313
The journey of the “apple from China”
A cross-linguistic study on the psychological salience of the colour term for orange
The designations of the orange fruit in Indo-European languages very often literally meant “apple from China”. Citrus species were known in the Chinese cultural area in the fifth century BCE and glossed in c.100 CE, but there is no basic colour term for orange in Modern Standard Mandarin. This colour category is psychologically salient, but it is still inseparable from a concrete object in the mind of a native speaker, and can therefore be defined as starting to become basic. This article also suggests modification of Berlin and Kay’s (1969: 6) first criterion for basicness in colour terms: applied to Chinese, a term should be monomorphemic and, moreover, monosyllabic – rather than just monolexemic – since almost every syllable is a morpheme in Chinese.
Keywords: colour naming, colour categorization, orange colour, basic colour term, Chinese
Published online: 26 November 2018
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