Towards a historical and cultural atlas of colour terms in the near east: Remarks on green and blue in some Arabic and Aramaic vernaculars

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

This chapter addresses evolutionary aspects tangential to the categorization of green and blue in selected contemporary varieties of Arabic and Aramaic spoken in the Near East. Its objective is to focus attention on the need for a combined linguistic and cultural study of this region on a macro-areal scale, after the model of R. E. MacLaury's (1997) Mesoamerican colour survey. The present research intimates that the Bedouin Arabic hybrid colour paradigm -with its minimal set of basic categories, lexicalized alongside an elaborate word-stock for non-basic, (though functionally salient) unsaturated, natural hues (of livestock, steppe terrain, and more) - represents an early evolutionary stage in Semitic colour categorization focused essentially on brightness values. Hence the undifferentiated dark / cool region of the Old Arabic spectrum covered by the basic term axdar "green, blue, and black". The comparative chromatic data here adduced from ancient and modern Semitic suggest that the tendency to fuse green and blue into a single category in this region represents a relic trait in certain parts of the Near East, concomitant with a still ongoing shift from brightness to hue categories.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationColour Studies
Subtitle of host publicationA Broad Spectrum
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Pages31-52
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789027212191
ISBN (Print)9789027269195
DOIs
StatePublished - 26 Nov 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences

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