MoL-2013-02: Carving up the rainbow: how to model linguistic categorization of color

MoL-2013-02: Ocelák, Radek (2013) Carving up the rainbow: how to model linguistic categorization of color. [Report]

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Abstract

The thesis deals with categorization of color in language, specifically with the question how to account for its observed cross-linguistic patterns. To this end, I consider color categorization models of the most recent type, which go beyond the dated dichotomy of universalism and relativism, integrating constraints on color perception by a human individual as well as constraints on language interaction between individual agents. After setting the color categorization problem in its historical, disciplinary and ideological context, I proceed from the question of evaluation. I argue, contra the relativist critics, that the World Color Survey (the most extensive color categorization in languages of the world, against which color categorization models should be evaluated. However, a considered reduction of the actual WCS data is desirable in order to exclude the impact of several distorting factors. The major part of the thesis, the, is focused on the question of an appropriate perceptual basis for a color categorization model: that is, on the assumptions about individual color perception that such a model should embody. First, I examine the relevance of various color topologies for the color categorization problem. I suggest a basic modeling strategy, which involves the CIELAB color space with an updated color difference formula. The proportion of color-deficient agents in the population is likely to play a significant role. After that, I consider the possible explanatory role of two phenomena that are rather central and, as I argue, seriously misconceived in the contemporary color science: what is known as "unique hues" and what is commonly referred to as "categorical perception of color". Against the mainstream opinion, I argue that there is no reason to claim that some hues (in particular, red, yellow, green and blue) are privileged or constitutive in human color perception. The widespread notion of four perceptually unique hues organized in a double-opponent fashion is flawed and has no explanatory relevance with respect to linguistic categorization of color. The phenomenon of categorical perception, as far as prelinguistic children are concerned, can be employed in explaining linguistic categorization of color, but only upon a substantial clarification. Categorical perception effects must not be explicated, as is common, in terms of warping of the perceptual color space. Moreover, the existing evidence on "infant categorical perception" does not license the usual conclusion that infants perceptually categorize color. For our explanatory purpose, the phenomenon should be conceived as differentiation of the discrimination performance over the perceptual color space. I conclude by a brief outline of other desirable components for a color categorization model, ones that go beyond the level of individual color perception.

Item Type: Report
Report Nr: MoL-2013-02
Series Name: Master of Logic Thesis (MoL) Series
Year: 2013
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2016 14:38
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2016 14:38
URI: https://eprints.illc.uva.nl/id/eprint/891

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