Linguistics Colloquium 11/30/12 – Jodi Sandford

Call Me Blue – Proposal for an Idealized Cognitive Model of Color
Jodi Sandford
University of Perugia

Friday, November 30, 2012
3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Johnson 102

The polysemy of color terms in a given language is antagonistic and opponent, as is the consequential use in conceptual color metaphor and metonymy. Color is both light and substance. It is antagonistic in its realization in the external world and in human embodiment of color processing. It is my thesis that the perceptual embodied experience of color involves the development of conceptual metaphor /metonym mechanisms and the establishment of a mapping process between the domains of color as a light object and color as a substance object. Color represents a cognitive focus in language, which in turn triggers a positive or negative association with the context. This happens through the parallel processing of the color signal and symbol. Two principal hypotheses are put forward: 1) Conceptual color metaphors may be mapped as part of conceptual metaphor systems on three different levels: primary, sub-systemic, and specific level. 2) Color terms establish a perceptive cognitive pattern for activating and elaborating conceptual metaphors; color terms are metaphorical. What often seems to be an isolated manifestation of color term meaning is instead a systematic realization of these conceptual metaphor types, which in turn reflect aspects of our embodied comprehension of things – COLORS ARE ENTITIES or COLORS ARE LOCATIONS, and relations – GOOD IS COLOR or SEEING IS COLOR. Color is emblematic of the passage from perception, cognition, to linguistic elaboration; and thus is often used to illustrate linguistic phenomena. ¬†Embodiment Theory and Conceptual Metaphor Theory are relevant paradigms for the analysis of how humans create a polysemic network of color term senses. Further research should shed light on how embodied color term processing, together with other senses, establishes the cognitive mechanism that allows individuals to elaborate conceptual metaphor in general. In the end color terms are used to imply: ‘I know what I mean, I have seen it, and I can tell you what color it is.’

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