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Academic Paper

Title: Cognitive representation of colour in bilinguals: The case of Greek blues
Author: Panos Athanasopoulos
Institution: Bangor University
Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science; Semantics
Abstract: A number of recent studies demonstrate that bilinguals with languages that differ in grammatical and lexical categories may shift their cognitive representation of those categories towards that of monolingual speakers of their second language. The current paper extended that investigation to the domain of colour in Greek–English bilinguals with different levels of bilingualism, and English monolinguals. Greek differentiates the blue region of colour space into a darker shade called and a lighter shade called . Results showed a semantic shift of category prototypes with level of bilingualism and acculturation, while the way bilinguals judged the perceptual similarity between within- and cross-category stimulus pairs depended strongly on the availability of the relevant colour terms in semantic memory, and the amount of time spent in the L2-speaking country. These results suggest that cognition is tightly linked to semantic memory for specific linguistic categories, and to cultural immersion in the L2-speaking country.


This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 12, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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