© 1998

Naming the Rainbow

Colour Language, Colour Science, and Culture


Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 274)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. The Foundations of the Universalist Tradition in Colour Naming Research

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Don Dedrick
      Pages 3-9
    3. Don Dedrick
      Pages 10-24
    4. Don Dedrick
      Pages 25-47
    5. Don Dedrick
      Pages 48-58
    6. Don Dedrick
      Pages 59-74
  3. Colour Naming: Constraints, Cognition, and Culture

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 75-75
    2. Don Dedrick
      Pages 108-132
    3. Don Dedrick
      Pages 133-152
    4. Don Dedrick
      Pages 153-159
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 160-222

About this book


Is there a universal biolinguistic disposition for the development of `basic' colour words? This question has been a subject of debate since Brent Berlin and Paul Kay's Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution was published in 1969. Naming the Rainbow is the first extended study of this debate. The author describes and criticizes empirically and conceptually unified models of colour naming that relate basic colour terms directly to perceptual and ultimately to physiological facts, arguing that this strategy has overlooked the cognitive dimension of colour naming. He proposes a psychosemantics for basic colour terms which is sensitive to cultural difference and to the nature and structure of non-linguistic experience.
Audience: Contemporary colour naming research is radically interdisciplinary and Naming the Rainbow will be of interest to philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists, and cognitive scientists concerned with: biological constraints on cognition and categorization; problems inherent in cross-cultural and in interdisciplinary science; the nature and extent of cultural relativism.


cognition experience relativism semantics subject

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of VictoriaCanada

Bibliographic information