Russian’s second BLUE term goluboj ‘light blue’ constitutes a well-known exception to the Berlin and Kay basic color-term typology. If other Slavonic languages do not have a second BLUE term, then the special position of Russian requires explanation; if there is evidence pointing to two basic terms for BLUE, we have a second set of data for investigating the evolution of this unusual color system. The languages genetically closest to Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian, are examined. Findings of the list task, a simple and elegant test for psychological salience of color terms, provide strong evidence that Ukrainian and Belarusian have also evolved a second BLUE. What is interesting is that the term is not the general East Slavonic term that Russian uses, but a Polish borrowing: blakytnyj ‘light blue’ (Ukrainian), blakitny ‘light blue’ (Belarusian). This opens up the possibility that a category, in this case the second BLUE, may be borrowed separately from the basic term that denotes it. Since the category has been borrowed separately from its term, we have evidence of a different kind that the Russian color system includes a second BLUE: the category is salient enough to be borrowed separately from the term that denotes it.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Hippisley, Andrew R., "Basic BLUE in East Slavonic" (2001). Linguistics Faculty Publications. 44.