Color words in painting descriptions: Some linguistic evidence for entity-like conceptualization

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The chapter contains linguistic analysis of a sample of 100 catalogue entries written for three American museums to describe individual paintings. The aim of the study is to investigate the use of color words by art critics and painters in American English. Results of the analysis indicate an extensive use of nominalization in the color lexicon of discourse studied – along with attributive function of color words, which perform as modifiers of nouns and signal color as a property of an entity. Notably, both basic and non-basic color terms tend to be used as nouns. The nominalized color words exhibit the full range of morphological, semantic, and syntactic features of nouns. We suggest that this kind of verbalization of color concepts in painting descriptions reflects a certain model of understanding color as a domain of human experience, in particular, categorizing color as a thing-like manipulable entity.


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