Colour as a linguistic and extra-linguistic phenomenon

Extra-linguistic and linguistic spheres of colour naming adjectives study. Colour as a physical phenomenon. Psychophysiological mechanisms of forming colour perception. The nuclear and peripherical meanings of the semantic field of the main colours.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 27.09.2013
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COLOUR AS A LINGUISTIC AND EXTRA-LINGUISTIC PHENOMENON

Content

Introduction

1. Extralinguistic and linguistic spheres of colour naming adjectives study. Colour as a physical phenomenon

1.2 Colour as a characteristic of an object

1.3 Psychological aspects of the focus colours

1.4 Colour as one of the basic spheres of cognition

Conclusion

Literature

Introduction

Many aspects of our reality are apprehended by the means of colour.

Every name of the colour has its great information potential.

Due to the priority of the perceptive form of the world assimilation and the capacity of the colour to influence on the physical and emotional person state, colour is an important part of the conceptual picture of the world.

The actuality of this research is determined by the great interest of modern linguistics for the language world conceptualization research and a special emphasis to colour naming studying as the main marker of national cultures. The problems of discovering common and specific features in different linguistic world images are also important.

My research work is focused on the language colour naming concepts representation in English, Russian and European.

The object of the research is concepts, representing green, blue and red colours in English linguistic world-image.

The subject of this research is the peculiarities of linguistic representation of colour in English linguistic world-image.

The main goal of the research is to find out the main characteristics of concept function, representing green, blue and red colours in English linguistic world-image.

To achieve this goal we should solve several problems:

1) To find the place of colour naming in the conceptual picture of the world.

2) To analyze nuclear conceptual marks of the describing colour names in English language.

3) To elicit common and specific features in functioning of these colour concepts in English linguistic world-image.

The research methods were determined by specificity of the material, the goal and the particular problems solving in this research work.

In my work I used such traditional methods of research as supervision, description and evaluation.

The practical value of the research is that it helps to understand the language influence on perception of the world by the native speakers.

I consider that from the point of view of semantics object colour named adjectives have their own special qualities naming a mark through its attitude towards objects being contextually conditioned and at the same time in contrast to the classical relative adjectives that denote such a mark that can be characterized according to its intensity that allows us to compare them.

1. Extralinguistic and linguistic spheres of colour naming adjectives study

1.1 Colour as a physical phenomenon

Colour, physical phenomenon of light or visual perception associated with the various wavelengths in the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (see Electromagnetic Radiation; Spectrum). As a sensation experienced by humans and some animals, perception of colour is a complex neurophysiological process. The methods used for colour specification today belong to a technique known as colorimetry and consist of accurate scientific measurements based on the wavelengths of three primary colours.

The human eye does not function like a machine for spectral analysis, and the same colour sensation can be produced by different physical stimuli. Thus a mixture of red and green light of the proper intensities appears exactly the same as spectral yellow, although it does not contain light of the wavelengths corresponding to yellow. Any color sensation can be duplicated by mixing varying quantities of red, blue, and green. These colours, therefore, are known as the additive primary colours. If light of these primary colours is added together in equal intensities, the sensation of white light is produced. A number of pairs of pure spectral colours called complementary colours also exist; if mixed additively, these will produce the same sensation as white light. Among these pairs are certain yellows and blues, greens and blues, reds and greens, and greens and violets.

1.2 Colour as a characteristic of an object

Colour is the most important characteristic of an object. It makes the object brighter and gives it an emotional expression.

Colour is a complicated phenomenon based on many reasons. Multicolouring from the physical point of view is made by the interaction of light and an object.

Optical paths consisting of many coloured rays is reflected or absorbed by different objects. Our eyes can see only reflected rays.

Among the physical characteristics of the colour we can name hue, lightness and saturation. Hue is the main characteristic of the colour which is expressed by the words "red", "green", "blue" and as a result it helps us to distinguish different colours. Hue depends on the length of the light wave reflecting or absorbing by an object. Except black, white and grey which are achromatic all the other colours are chromatic.

Lightness is a location of the colour on the scale from black to white. It is described by the word "dark" or `light'.

The level of chromaticity is defined by the saturation.

These physical qualities explain why a man can divide all the colours into coloured and uncoloured.

1.3 Psychological aspects of the focus colours

From the psychological point of view the categories of natural phenomena include following processes:

1) The choice of motivation. On the assumption of the motivations that can be perceived by the organs of senses, only few of them are suitable for the cognitive process (they are in the focus of attention);

2) Identity and classification. This can be reached by the means of comparision of special motivations of useful information in a man's brains;

3) Nominative. The most part of the cognitive categories were named after some indefinite categories.

Eleanor Rosch (once known as Eleanor Rosch Heider) is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in cognitive psychology and primarily known for her work on categorization, in particular her prototype theory, which has profoundly influenced the field of cognitive psychology. Throughout her work Rosch has conducted extensive research focusing on topics including semantic categorization, mental representation of concepts and linguistics. Her research interests include cognition, concepts, causality, thinking, memory, and cross-cultural, Eastern, and religious psychology.

Eleanor Rosch was studying the psychological aspects of the focus colours. According to her research several conclusions were made:

1) Focus colours are appreciated better than the others;

2) Focus colours are kept in the recent memory longer than the others;

3) The names of focus colours are produced faster by the children [15].

1.4 Colour as one of the basic spheres of cognition

linguistic colour physical phenomenon

Being an important factor of man's life and activity the colour is a part of the world image in all the components, marked by Leontyev A.N. in the consciousness structure (material part, meaning and personal sense) [7].

Psychophysiological mechanisms of forming colour perception are mainly common for the mankind, like many other psychophysiological effects of the color.

In comparison of the material level, colour on the personal sense level always has unique meaning, forming during human's life and his activity.

Different colours have different meanings. Even in childhood a child due to his organs of the senses starts to appreciate color and other qualities of objects and denote them with the help of the language, assimilating the ways of phenomena categorization, typical for the cultural picture of the world.

In the course of time personal stable systems of meaning begin to form.

They usually function as verbal-sensitive association complexes.

Luria A.R. in his experiments that took place in Central Asia in 1931-1932, focused on discovery of cultural differences in the man intellectual activity stated that the ways of categorization and classification of colour are culturally determined[8].

At the same time Luria agreed that colour perception is a universal function[8].

But we should avoid the total opposition of cultural and universal features.

Colour as the component of the world's image can be found in all the features. It's an integral part of the subject image content and is a part of the material. Every person can feel different emotions to one colour according to his personal denotation.

Every colour has its own meaning fixed in culture and the meaning is based on the material (for example red color increases pressure and pulse, a rush of blood, as according to M. Lusher, from the times of primitive man it symbolizes the danger of attack) [9].

The most meaningful colours have their own verbal expressions. The language hasn't got a term for particular colour if this colour is out of importance for this culture.

There are two the most effective ways of finding out the meaning of each colour. The first one is connected with the usage of linguistic methods. Here we can speak about comparative study of fiction literature and different literary and scientific sources about colour and the comparative analysis of phraseological units with colour naming component. The second one is holding of associative experiment with the representatives of each culture.

According to Vasilevich A.P. "Associative field of a word is a real thing which is closely connected with historical and cultural tradition of this particular nation" [1. С. 97]. An associative experiment the respondents' answers are standard, typical and reflect common cultural realias.

So the first method permits to find out all the meanings of the colour typical for this culture and to make up the structure of the semantic field of the colour. The second method allows to specify these meanings and the structure of the semantic field of the colour and to make final reconstruction.

The associative experiment took place in 2004-2009 in Russia, Europe, the USA and some other countries with a help of the sources of the e-mail and different social networks. The test group was asked to name their verbal associations with the particular colours: red, blue and green.

We exposed the results to the procedure of content-analysis and semantic grouping. According to the research several conclusions were made:

1. Blue and green colours were closely connected with the associations of the objects and phenomena of wild life and inanimate nature;

2. Red colour has many associations with emotions in all cultures. This can be explained by the fact that red colour is traditionally connected with the terms of love, passion, anger and so on.

It is interesting to notice that the blue colour has got high percent of emotional associations in the English language. This can be explained by the fact that the semantic field of blue colour in English culture contains the terms of sadness and grief. So the semantics of blue colour in English culture is mainly negative.

Table 1.1 The results of the associative experiment

Colour

Total

Associations with the objects and phenomena of wild life and inanimate nature

Associations with the cultural objects

Associations with abstract terms

Associations with the emotional terms

Russian culture, N = 145, total 2849

red

496

209 (42.1)

177 (35.7)

43 (8.7)

64 (12.9)

green

459

279 (60.8)

88 (19.2)

69 (15.0)

20 (4.4)

blue

481

276 (57.4)

111 (23.1)

85 (17.7)

8 (1.7)

English culture, N = 110, total 2218

red

387

176 (45.5)

112 (28.9)

45 (11.6)

52 (13.4)

green

366

233 (63.7)

59 (16.1)

48 (13.1)

25 (6.8)

blue

366

240 (65.6)

65 (17.8)

41 (11.2)

19 (5.2)

Mixed European culture (answers in English), N = 65, total 1303

red

226

93 (41.6)

33 (14.6)

40 (17.7)

58 (25.7)

green

214

122 (57.0)

30 (14.0)

39 (18.2)

19 (8.9)

blue

213

127 (59.6)

28 (13.2)

52 (24.4)

5 (2.4)

The highest percent of the answers in the regarded groups took the meanings of the so-called "prototypical referents" of the colour, as they are the names of the objects and phenomenon of the wild life and inanimate nature that surrounded a man since the very beginning of his cultural and historical development. So they are the nuclear of the semantic field of the colour. Some meanings with low percent but pointing to the prototypical referents of the colour can be also included to the nuclear of the semantic field of colour, that means that objects and phenomena of the nature which are closely connected with the person's consciousness speaking this or that language and which are defined by the climate, nature, geographical position of the country.

Picture 1.1 The nuclear meanings of the semantic field of the red colour

Picture 1.2 The nuclear meanings of the semantic field of the blue colour

According to the results of the first stage of the research the hypothesis was made: the nucleuses of the semantic field of the same colour in different cultures usually contain similar meanings presented by the prototypical referents of the colour (thus there can be little differences because of the difference in geographical position and climate). The peripherical meanings can be marked as culturally-specific, appeared in the nation's consciousness in a course of it cultural and historical development.

In the table below you can see all the nuclear meaningsof the semantic fields of the basic colours for Russian, English and European cultures.

From this table you can see that in the nuclear of the semantic field of meaning there are some coincidences except for the animals, birds and flowers, because they are representatives of the sample colour for each culture.

But some meanings are unique. For example only in the English culture birds (robins) are prototypical referents of the red colour and they play an important role in folklore and literature. So we have got a confirmation of our hypothesis that the prototypical referents of the colour, forming a nuclear of the semantic field, may differ in different countries because of different climatic and geographical conditions.

Table 1.2 Nuclear meanings of the semantic field of the main colours

Colour

Russian culture

English culture

Mixed European culture

Red

blood,fire, the sun, flowers, berries, fruit and vegetables, wine, ruddiness.

blood,fire, the sun, flowers, berries, fruit and vegetables, wine.

blood,fire, the sun, flowers, berries, fruit and vegetables.

Green

Nature, plants, animals, green eyes, fruit and vegetables, sea, spring, summer, precious gems.

Nature, plants, animals, green eyes, fruit and vegetables, spring, summer, precious gems.

Nature, plants, animals.

Blue

Water, sea, ocean, rain, lake, river, sky, eyes, night, flowers, sapphire.

Sky, water, sea, ocean, rain, flowers, eyes, night.

Sky, water, sea, ocean.

Table 1.3 Peripherical meanings of the semantic field of the main colours.

Colour

Russian culture

English culture

Mixed European culture

Red

A symbol of love and passion: love, passion, heart; sexuality; warm, hot; anger, aggression; bright, active, strong, energetic.

A symbol of love and passion: love, passion, heart; sexuality; warm, hot; anger, aggression; bright, active, strong, energetic.

A symbol of love and passion: love, passion, heart; sexuality; warm, hot; anger, aggression; bright, active, strong, energetic.

Green

Balance, youth, inexperience; freshness; a symbol of life.

Freshness, peace, comfort; coolness; a symbol of life; energetic, vivacity; illness.

Balance, a symbol of life, new, fresh.

Blue

Balance, coolness, cold, winter, depth, sadness, positive emotions.

Coolness, cold, sadness, balance, peace, depth, sea animals.

Coolness, cold, balance, depth, fresh, sea animals.

Therefore research helps us to determine the colour meanings unique for each country, that were formed as the result of its cultural and historical development and that they have no parallels even in closely connected cultures.

Conclusion

Among the all physical qualities colour is one of the most important, most obvious and the brightest characteristics of the objects of the world.

Colour derives from the spectrum of light (distribution of light power versus wavelength) interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors. Colour categories and physical specifications of colour are also associated with objects, materials, light sources, etc., based on their physical properties such as light absorption, reflection, or emission spectra. By defining a colour space, colours can be identified numerically by their coordinates.

Colour is the most important characteristic of an object. It makes the object brighter and gives it an emotional expression.

According to the research made by Eleanor Rosch several conclusions were made:

Focus colours are appreciated better than the others;

1) Focus colours are kept in the recent memory longer than the others;

2) The names of focus colours are produced faster by the children.

3) The names of focus colours are produced faster by the children.

Psychophysiological mechanisms of forming color perception are mainly common for the mankind, like many other psychophysiological effects of the color.

Unlike the material level, colour on personal level always has unique meanings, which are formed exactly during the process of man's life and activity.

The research of the semantic field of the main colours in three cultures permits to find out the structure of the semantic field of each colour and its meaning, particular for the representatives of each culture on the present level of their cultural and historical development.

The nuclear of the semantic field includes the meanings expressed by the prototypical referents of the colour. This meanings are usually common for different cultures, but in addition they have specific meanings influenced by the geographical position and the climate.

The pheripherical units contain meanings that can be derived from the psychological features of the colour and its prototypical referents, that are the meanings of the nuclear of the semantic field. These meanings are similar in different cultures but not identic. So we can conclude that the pheripherical meanings of the semantic field are represented by the culturally-specific meaning of a colour that was formed in each culture in the process of its cultural and historical development.

Literature

1. Василевич А.П. Исследование лексики в психолингвистическом эксперименте. М., 1987.

2. Василюк Ф.Е.Структура образа // Вопросы психологии, 1993, № 5, с.5-19.

3. Вежбицкая А. Язык. Культура. Познание. М., 1996.

4. Журавлев А.П. Звук и смысл. М., 1991.

5. Кудрина А.В. Реконструкция семантических пространств цветов в русском, английском и немецком языках/ Сборник материалов международной конференции "Язык, культура, речевое общение", посвященной 85-летию М.Я. Блоха, МПГУ.

6. Кудрина А.В. Семантика цвета в разных культурах на примере анализа фразеологизмов с компонентом цветообозначения/ Сборник материалов научной сессии по итогам выполнения научно-исследовательской работы на факультете иностранных языков МПГУ за 2009-2010 год. М.: "Прометей"

7. Леонтьев А.Н. Деятельность. Сознание. Личность. М., 1975.

8. Лурия А.Р. Культурные различия и интеллектуальная деятельность // А.Р. Лурия. Этапы пройденного пути: Научная автобиография. М.: Изд-во Моск. ун-та, 1982, с. 47-69.

9. Люшер М. Цветовой тест Люшера. М., 2006.

10. Тер-Минасова С.Г.Язык и межкультурная коммуникация. М., 2000.

11. Фрумкина Р.М. Цвет, смысл, сходство. М.,1984.

12. Berlin B., Kay P. Basic colour terms: their universality and evolution. Berkeley and Los Angeles. University of California Press, 1969.

13. Birren F. Color Psychology and Color Therapy: A Factual Study of the Influence of Color on Human Life. New Hyde Park, N.Y., 1961.

14. Hurvich L.M. Color vision. Sunderland, Mass., 1981.

15. Rosch, E.H. "Natural categories". Cognitive Psychology , 1973

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