Is it all guesswork? Translating colour terms across the centuries

Biggam, C. P. (2018) Is it all guesswork? Translating colour terms across the centuries. In: MacDonald, L. W., Biggam, C. P. and Paramei, G. V. (eds.) Progress in Colour Studies: Cognition, Language and Beyond. John Benjamins Publishing Company: Amsterdam ; Philadelphia, pp. 167-178. ISBN 9789027201041 (doi:10.1075/z.217.09big)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


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.

Item Type:Book Sections
Keywords:Colour, semantic research, English, connotations.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Biggam, Dr Carole
Authors: Biggam, C. P.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Publisher:John Benjamins Publishing Company
Related URLs:

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record