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Nature and Culture: An Analysis of Individual Focal Color Choices in World Color Survey Languages

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The data from the World Color Survey of 110 un-written languages have been analyzed in regard to individual focal choices. A total of 46 major color terms (used by at least 60% of speakers in a given language) have been identified. Of these 24 can be defined in terms of English color terms, while 22 cannot. The most important color term in terms of usage is red, followed by white and black. In the 110 languages, 73 different arrangements of major color terms have been found. The six Hering fundamental colors, presumably closely related to the workings of the color vision system, occur preferentially but not consistently in languages with 6 or more major terms. They represent the top six categories in terms of major usage. WCS indicates usage of major color terms to be complex and clearly also influenced by cultural choices.

Affiliations: 1: North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA


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