Colour terms in Chinese

Authored by: Huei-ling Lai

The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Applied Linguistics

Print publication date:  March  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138650732
eBook ISBN: 9781315625157
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter will provide an overview of research on the lexicalization patterns of seven colour terms and their metonymic and metaphoric extensions. The aim of the current study was to test whether the structural and semantic complexities exhibited by the colour terms accorded with the stages in Berlin and Kay’s (1969) evolutionary hierarchy. The findings of the study indicated that the degrees of lexicalization correlated with semantic opaqueness, as well as supported the hypothesis that white and black are the richest colours in terms of their grammatical and semantic complexities, followed by red, yellow, green, blue and cyan, respectively.

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