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.

Document Type


Publication Date




Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Included in

Linguistics Commons