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Rolf Kuehni; What the World Color Survey tells about hue based color categories. Journal of Vision 2006;6(13):18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/6.13.18.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The World Color Survey of 110 unwritten languages provides much information about color terms and their perceptual meaning in population groups not highly technically advanced. A new analysis of the data, based on certain rules, discloses 46 kinds of term concepts (identical perceptual meaning) with major usage, representing 47% of all terms used in the languages. The most important are Hering's perceptual primitives in the sequence red, white, black, green, yellow, and blue. Thirteen terms with major use can only be described with English double or triple terms, and 22 terms defy easy definition. Some of these have a usage level comparable or higher than those of Berlin & Kay's basic colors orange and gray. Major color term concepts used in languages begins with one, rises to 19 in 7-major-term languages and declines to 10 in 9-term languages. It is evident that while the Hering perceptual primitives play the most important role, presumably as a result of the operation of the color vision system, cultural effects have a major role during development of a settled color terminology and, if the WCS languages are representative examples, there is no simple single path for this development.
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