[Lingtyp] query: "blue"/"green" and dialectal variation in English SUM

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Thu Apr 11 15:11:01 UTC 2019

Dear all,

My query below, on "blue"/"green" in English, did not elicit an 
avalanche of responses, but I did get a few interesting ones addressed 
to me personally, for which many thanks.

Bottom line: nobody seem to be familiar with any existing descriptions 
of cross-dialectal variation with respect to the applicability of "blue" 
and "green" to various in-between shades blue/green.

My own survey, now totaling over 600 subjects, did reveal significant 
cross-dialectal variation, the highlights of which are presented in the 
attached table, summarizing the results for the three in-between 
blue-green colours in the survey.  (The survey is now closed; thanks to 
everybody who responded.)

The left-hand column shows the number of respondents for each of the 
major dialects in the survey. The remaining cells show percentages of 
respondents who chose "blue" over "green" as the correct colour term.

Stimulus 6 turned out to be less interesting: in all dialects it evinced 
a strong preference for "green" over "blue". Stimuli 2 and 8 are the 
interesting ones, and for the most part they correlate closely in their 
scores. The dialects are ordered by their scores for Stimulus 8, ranging 
from New Zealand, the most green-favouring, to USA, the most 
blue-favouring. Lumping together the New Zealand and Australia 
responses, the difference between them and the USA for stimulus 8 is 
significant at a level of p < 0.001.

I find it fascinating that there's still stuff out there to be 
discovered about colour terms in English.

Finally, for a somewhat different (though still English-specific) 
perspective on the subject, you might wish to check out the following 
fun sites (thanks to Tiago Tresoldi):



On 07/04/2019 23:29, David Gil wrote:
> Dear all,
> I've recently become aware of dialectal variation within English with 
> respect to the denotation of the colour terms "blue" and "green"; 
> specifically, the extent to which they apply to intermediate colours 
> such as cyan, turquoise and teal.I'm currently running an informal 
> survey on google forms (see link below); the results are still coming 
> in, but I'm already observing interesting dialectal variation.For 
> example, in stimulus 8, showing a shade of teal, subjects are 
> presented with a forced choice task: is it "blue" or "green"?The 
> percentage of subjects who chose "blue" range from 19% in Australian 
> English (23 subjects) to 65% in USA English (97 subjects), with other 
> countries occupying intermediate positions on the scale.
> My question: has anybody described this kind of variation within 
> English dialects before?It's the world's most studied language, and a 
> very popular domain of investigation, and yet a Google search didn't 
> come up with any references to precisely this kind of variation.Any 
> comments related to this topic would be appreciated.
> https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1e5nvUB8B3OdUXo1Rat7xrwrxj4H_qgJcvpAkNcHIj8c/edit
> Thanks,
> David
> -- 
> David Gil
> Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
> Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
> Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
> Email:gil at shh.mpg.de
> Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
> Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81281162816
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp

David Gil

Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany

Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81281162816

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