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Journal Article

Yélî Dnye and the theory of basic color terms


Levinson,  Stephen C.
Language and Cognition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Levinson, S. C. (2000). Yélî Dnye and the theory of basic color terms. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 10( 1), 3-55. doi:10.1525/jlin.2000.10.1.3.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-2A6B-F
The theory of basic color terms was a crucial factor in the demise of linguistic relativity. The theory is now once again under scrutiny and fundamental revision. This article details a case study that undermines one of the central claims of the classical theory, namely that languages universally treat color as a unitary domain, to be exhaustively named. Taken together with other cases, the study suggests that a number of languages have only an incipient color terminology, raising doubts about the linguistic universality of such terminology.