Paolo D'Achille, Maria Grossmann

Italian colour terms in the BROWN area. Synchrony and diachrony

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Semantics; Word Formation; Colour Terms.

Following the publication in 1969 of Berlin and Kay's "Basic Color Terms. Their Universality and Evolution", studies on colour vocabulary in individual languages have repeatedly attempted to answer the question of whether the number of basic colour terms could be greater than eleven. The debated status of the Russian terms "sinij" ('dark blue') and "goluboj" ('light blue') has ignited an interesting discussion among linguists, psychologists and anthropologists and stimulated a vast number of specific studies focused on the BLUE, RED and BROWN areas in several languages. The availability of new lexicographic resources and of large searchable corpora now makes it possible to expand the study of the distribution of the nearest counterparts of brown in "Italian", i.e. "bruno", "marrone", "castano" and "moro", from both a diachronic and a synchronic perspective. Our study focuses on changes in the semantic relations between these terms from Old Italian to present day Italian. We also consider their eligibility as bases for derived and compound colour terms.

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