A Comparative and Contrastive Study on the Meaning Extension of Color Terms in Persian and English

Document Type : Research Paper


1 University of Zabol

2 University of Science and Technology

3 Univeristy of Zabol


We deal with a wide range of colors in our daily life. They are such ubiquitous phenomena that is hard and next to impossible to imagine even a single entity (be it an object, place, living creature, etc) devoid of them. They are like death and tax which nobody can dispense with. This omnipresence of colors around us has also made its way through abstract and less tangible entities via the interaction between culture and cognition. In an attempt to shed further light on the way that color meanings could be extended in different languages and cultures, the present study sought to investigate the semantic extension of Persian and English color terms based on cultural data. The findings revealed the existence of both language-idiosyncratic and general tendencies for both Persian and English languages with respect to semantic extension of color terms. It was also shown that Persian and English speakers mostly use the same mechanisms of metonymy, metaphor and sense of opposite relation based on cultural data and their experience of the physical world to develop more and more color meanings. Furthermore, the study suggested that the direction and development of the semantic domain of a color term mainly depends on its already developed semantic properties and is not accidental. Two other accidental points were also found in the study. First, the borrowing, acceptance and the usage of a color expression from another language might depend on the already developed semantic properties of the related color term in the recipient language. Second, it is possible to predict the direction and development of the new connotations and meanings of a color term in a specific language. 


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