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The Use of Modifying Terms in the Naming and Categorization of Color Appearances in Vietnamese and English

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Cross-cultural studies of color naming show that basic terms are universally the most frequently used to name colors. However, such basic color terms are always used in the context of larger linguistic systems when specific properties of color experience are described. To investigate naturalistic naming behaviors, we examined the use of modifiers in English and Vietnamese color naming using an unconstrained naming task (Jameson & Alvarado, in press). Monolingual and bilingual subjects named a representative set of 110 color stimuli sampled from a commonly used color-order stimulus space. Results revealed greater reliance upon polylexemic naming among monolingual Vietnamese speakers and greater use of monolexemic basic hue terms and secondary terms (object glosses) among monolingual English speakers. Systematic differences across these language groups imply that widely used monolexemic naming methods may differentially impact color-naming findings in cross-cultural investigations of color cognition.


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Affiliations: 1: IBM, Thomas J. Watson Research Center.; 2: Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego.


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