Color naming in Estonian and cognate languages

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Modelling the Finnic color term semantics, two aspects have been considered: (1) the semantic category expressed by every color term, and (2) the background motivation of the name-giving process. We may divide the color terms of all Finnic languages into eight synonym groups, referring to the notions of ‘white’, ‘black’, ‘red’, ‘blue’, ‘yellow’, ‘green’, ‘brown’, and ‘grey’. The hyperonyms of the groups stand for the most general color categories. Mixed tones are often designated by several hyperonyms. Most of the Finnic color names have a descriptive background: the adjectives are semantically motivated by colored objects. Many names of specific shades originate in nouns referring to a dye or its origin. Secondary qualities of hues are referred to by the adjectival part of a compound term. Color terms used by Finnic peoples belong to an open system providing for an unlimited number of acceptable terms.


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