Russian 'blues': Controversies of basicness

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Sinij and goluboj, the two Russian confounders for ‘blue’, are considered. The question addressed is whether solely sinij or both have status of basic color terms. Results along various lines of experimental research are analyzed. Developmental studies in preschoolers show that with regards to sinij, acquisition of goluboj is overdue, but comparable to that of ‘orange’ and ‘purple’. Psycholinguistic studies indicate that both Russian ‘blues’ are named with high consensus and have circumscribed, though adjoining areas when mapped into a color space. Psychometric studies relate data of Russian and English speakers on color categorization and discrimination within the blue region. Results are indecisive on whether Russian speakers possess a sinij-goluboj category boundary. However, choices of stimuli and/or experimental design were suboptimal. Further controlled psychometric investigation is required. Nevertheless, linguistic (developmental, metonymic, metaphoric) and psycholinguistic analyses provide converging evidence that both Russian ‘blues’ have status of the basic color terms.


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