Colour terms

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Russian attributive constructions with colour terms are analyzed using the <i>Russian National Corpus</i>. We focus on recently emerging colour terms and their development through to the early twenty-first century. Terms are considered in a construction-based framework, as syntactic-semantic rule pairs, with the emphasis on dynamics in their taxonomic combinability. This is exemplified by constructions denoting the brown category: names for objects, having similar referential meaning, collocate exclusively with one of the contending colour terms, <i>buryj</i> (older) or <i>kori&#269;nevyj</i> (newer). We argue that constraints on the usage of a colour term reflect a taxonomic boundary between two classes: the older term applies to <i>natural objects</i> whereas its new rival initially applies to <i>artefacts</i>, later expanding to natural objects. This finding indicates that discourse functioning of emerging colour terms is driven by the cognitive concept of &#8216;naturalness&#8217;. Combinability with nouns from both taxonomic classes is suggested as a supplementary linguistic criterion of colour term basicness.


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