Color Research and Application, Vol.22, No.1, 4-10, 1997
Basic Mandarin color terms
In comparative studies of basic color terms of various ethnic groups, Berlin and Kay Sound that the number of basic color terms used is greater, the more highly developed a culture becomes and vice-versa (Berlin and Kay 1969: 16). According to their thesis, peoples possessing the most highly developed cultures use II basic color terms, or the equivalents of white, black, red, yellow, green, blue, brown, orange, purple, pink, and gray. These II color terms are found in Japanese, Korean and Cantonese. However, as only six are found in Mandarin, Mandarin was assigned to a lower stage of cultural development. This is incorrect. In an effort to pi-eve this assertion, this author has conducted numerous studies. Based on research of Mandarin color terms and mapping response, this study attempts to prove that Mandarin has long contained the II basic color terms noted by Berlin and Kay. However, after conducting a mapping response study, it was discovered that the Berlin-Kay color set (i.e., the Berlin-Kay-MacLaury Munsell set) is inadequate for examining low saturation basic color terms such as he (Br) and cang (grayish BG), the representative colors of which are difficult to fully ascertain. During this study, this author discover-ed a cei tain degree of difficulty hindering mutual understanding between Eastern and Western cultures. Consequently, this study seeks to promote a degree of such understanding.