Metaphors as cognitive models in Halkomelem color adjectives

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Halkomelem is a Central Salish language of the Pacific Northwest with dialects of Upriver, Downriver, and Island. Color terms are adjectival verbs in Upriver Halkomelem, used syntactically and cognitively as both verbs and adjectives. Fieldwork with Munsell chips reveals that speakers of Upriver Halkomelem use a variety of strategies to name shades of color. Galloway 1992 reported on the use of aspect inflection to name the shades; thus color term roots are inflected for stative (be red), inceptive (get red, turn red), and these can be combined with continuative aspect (being red, getting/tuming red, getting in a state of red) and even with diminutives (a little red, getting/tuming a little red). There is one augmentative affix but adverbs like ‘very’ and ‘real’ are preposed by certain speakers to express some shades. Color adjectives, with or without adverbs and affixes, may be used sentence-initially as verbs or may be preposed to nouns within noun phrases. It seems, then, that different speakers use distinct metaphorical cognitive models in creating these terms. All speakers share the metaphorical model that COLORS ARE PROCESSES. This cognitive model allows further metaphors to be applied, for example, INCREASING SATURATION & BRIGHTNESS ARE CONTINUATIVES. Another metaphorical model is seen with the diminutive: DECREASING SATURATION & BRIGHTNESS ARE DIMINISHING IN SIZE OR AMOUNT. These last two mental models are coherent with each other and, therefore, can be used together. There are also adjectives meaning ‘light’ and ‘dark’ which some speakers use with color terms, and some use two basic color terms together to express variations in hue (like blue-green in English). Investigation continues into whether there are submodels ofmodifiers used to express variations in saturation independently from those in brightness. In Upriver Halkomelem, thinking of color in terms of culturally sanctioned metaphors is a convention that exceeds mere application of linguistic form to unprocessed color perception. Communicative subtlety depends on them.


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