Basic color terms from Proto-Semitic to Old Ethiopic

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The paper presents a survey of the basic color terms of Old Ethiopic and attempts to reconstruct a typologically plausible transition from the Proto-Semitic basic color term system to the Old Ethiopic one. The immediate interpretation of etymological data results in a rather unlikely scheme of development: we have to suppose a transition from the Proto-Semitic system, which possesses at least four basic colour terms, toward four-member Old Ethiopic system; this transition would also involve replacement of the Proto-Semitic “yellow-with-green” colour category with a “green” category in Old Ethiopic without introduction of a new “yellow” category. An alternative reconstruction of the colour term evolution from Proto-Semitic to Old Ethiopic is tentatively suggested, according to which the Proto-Semitic basic colour terms are regarded as brightness terms.


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