Galician colour semantics: An investigation of basic colour terms

Teixeira Moláns, Paula (2024) Galician colour semantics: An investigation of basic colour terms. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis explores the basic colour categories in Galician, a minority language spoken in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula that has been increasingly impacted by diglossic language contact with Spanish over the last century.

This study collected data from two age groups: the oldest speakers available, who were generally less affected by language contact with Spanish, and young adults, who were bilingual and the first generation schooled in Standard Galician. All participants reported having Galician as their everyday language. Data was collected from 98 participants from 11 collection points across Galicia seeking a balanced sample of the Galician speaking population and their dialects.

Results were extremely heterogeneous across and within age and gender subgroups. Nevertheless, some general trends have been identified. Consensus was much lower among elderly participants. Elderly males showed diverse categorisation patterns which ranged from distributions with fewer and more comprehensive categories (e.g. RED+ORANGE, YELLOW+ORANGE, PINK+ORANGE and even BLUE+PURPLE) to systems with more categories and more restrictive denotations. Elderly females presented similar categorisation patterns but tended to be ahead in the process of developing unitary categories, especially ORANGE. Young males had the highest consensus by generally presenting the classic 11 basic colour categories. Although young females agreed, some were developing new partitions such as LILAC.

The categorisation patterns attested across the age groups generally align with the Universals and Evolution (UE) model’s premises of partition and a series of predictable trajectories. The data, however, reveals the existence of extreme variation: members of the same generation can be several evolutionary stages apart and present different partition strategies for the same hue. Moreover, this thesis has uncovered a new possibility for the development of ORANGE. Instead of partitioning unitary ORANGE directly from MACRORED, there may be an intermediary stage PINK+ORANGE.

The labelling strategies for these categories were highly variable, particularly for RED and PURPLE. This variation is not frequently attested in colour semantics and highlights the importance of factors such as a) lack of — or recent — standardisation, b) the impact of language contact and c) the instability of labels when partition is not complete (ORANGE) but also much later after the category is consolidated (PURPLE).

This thesis shows the relevance of sociolinguistics, linguistic background and repertoire when collecting, processing and analysing data. Moreover, a new methodology is proposed to deal with this complex data: a series of increasingly comprehensive levels that allows an operational analysis without reducing the rich phenomena the data reports.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Hough, Professor Carole, Biggam, Dr. Carole and Soler Montes, Dr. Carlos
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84396
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2024 09:18
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2024 13:06
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84396

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