On the Cultural Connotation of the Three Primary Color Terms in English and Chinese毕业论文_英语毕业论文

On the Cultural Connotation of the Three Primary Color Terms in English and Chinese毕业论文


摘 要




1 Introduction——————————————————————————1

2 Demonstration—————————————————————————3

2.1 Culture and Color Terms———————————————————-3

2.2 Relationship Between Culture and Color Terms——————————-3

2.3 Contrast and Comparison of the Cultural Connotations of the Three Primary Color Terms in English and Chinese—————————————————4

2.3.1 “Red” and “红”—————————————4

2.3.2 “Yellow” and “黄”————————————-5

2.3.3 “Blue” and “蓝”—————————————7

2.4 Causes for Similarities and Differences —————————————-8

2.4.1 Causes for Similarities — the Same Perception————————–8

2.4.2 Causes for Differences——————————————————-8 Different Histories——————————————————-9 Different Traditions and Customs————————————-9 Different Religions——————————————————9

3. Conclusion——————————————————————————10


Works Cited——————————————————————————–13


On the Cultural Connotations of the Three Primary Color Terms in English and Chinese

1 Introduction

The world we live in is closely related to colors, for example, the blue sky, white clouds, green trees and so on, which play significant roles in our lives. People often use various color terms to express their appearances, emotions and others over years. Color terms as a special kind of language carry with cultural information such as history, tradition, customs, religion and so on. Different color terms have diverse cultural connotations in English and Chinese. By making contrast and comparison of color terms in English and Chinese, people can understand the various connotations of color terms in intercultural communication.

Every progress of researches on color terms is closely linked with human civilization of that time. The focus of the study on color terms in different era will be different from person to person, for example, philosophical implication, ethnographic finding, linguistic research and psychological survey etc.. In foreign countries, the study of the early philosophical implication on color terms can be traced back to ancient Greece period. The philosopher Plato and his follower Aristotle were interested in colors and did some researches. On the basis of Plato’s research, Aristotle divided colors into two kinds: simple and complex(Barnes, Jonathan 1984). German writer, Goethe, was also interested in color terms and paid more attention to the relationship between color and emotion. He found that different psychological feelings were produced by colors in terms of coldness and warmth(Goethe 1810). During the nineteenth century, more and more people began to research color terms related to the specific semantics of language and culture. In 1880, Magnus did a questionnaire among people from different cultures all over the world concerning colors, which was regarded as “the most comprehensive and conclusive of his time” now(Berlin, Kay 1961). And this study substantially changed people’s view of the relationship between color terms and their physiological foundations. On the basis of this survey, he boldly predicted the possibility in universality of color terms. In 1940s, Conklin and Gleason found that people from different countries recognized colors, which is no difference by comparing English and other languages. However, due to different cultural backgrounds, there will be differences in the division of chromatograph(Conklin, Gleason 1961). Therefore, the connotations of national culture and their cultural characteristics play an important role in the study of national language color terms. Two American scholars, Brent Berlin, an ethnographer, and Paul Kay, a linguist, studied 98 kinds of colors in the world, and their study showed there are 11 basic colors in the world: white, black, red, green, yellow, blue, brown, purple, pink, orange ,and grey. The basic color terms theory for the first time was proposed in their well-known book Basic Color Words – Their Universality and Evolution, which has been widely accepted and has a profound influence(Berlin, Kay 1961).

Compared with foreign countries, studies on color terms fall far behind in China. Most Chinese scholars put stress on research of basic color terms from the point view of linguistics and cognition. In 1964, Zhang Peiji, a translator, making a description of the usages, categories, and features of color terms in English and their translation in detail in《英语声色词与翻译》(Zhang peiji 1964). Later, a professor, Zhang Wangxi made a discussion about the connotations of color terms and analyzed their causes and differences. And he found the connotations of color terms depend on individuals’ perception of color and their subjective consciousness on colors(Zhang Wangxi 1988). Chinese scholars Yao Xiaoping(1988) and Liu Danqing (1990)based on Berlin and Paul’s theory gave an overall account of the development of basic color terms in English and Chinese, and concluded that culture is one of the reasons influencing the the existence and development of basic color terms. After 2000, Chinese scholars compared color terms in English and Chinese from different perspectives.

There are many relevant literature concerning the study of color terms, but few people study the three primary colors. What’s more, the three primary colors have their own unique characteristics, for example, none of them can be created by mixing the other two or more colors(Wikipedia). Thus, it is of great significance to study the primary color terms and their cultural characteristics. The study of the three primary color terms in English and Chinese can help people to know more about their similarity and dissimilarity of cultural connotations.

2 Demonstration

2.1 Culture and Color terms

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