The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in the domain of colors: evidence from healthy and aphasic speakers

  • Laura Anna Ciaccio Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
  • Tobias Bormann Neurologische Universitätsklinik Freiburg

Abstract

The domain of colors has often attracted attention of researchers looking
for evidence for the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and influence of language on color
perception has been confirmed in many studies. The present paper aims, on the one
hand, at providing further evidence for the effect on a healthy sample, and, on the
other, at extending research to an aphasic sample affected by color anomia, a
disorder that has never been dealt in the literature about the topic. A test based on
color similarity judgments was administered to both samples. Speakers were either
native speakers of Italian or of German. The colors of the test belonged to the green
and blue area of color space, and judgments on the green/blue boundary and on the
light blue/dark blue boundary were analyzed. The former boundary exists in both
languages, while the latter is only marked in Italian. Results provided supporting
evidence for a Whorfian effect in the domain of colors. However, this does not
contradict the theory about the existence of universal basic color terms. Furthermore,
the need for a more qualitative – rather than quantitative – approach to data is
stressed.
Published
2013-12-28
How to Cite
Ciaccio, L. A. and Bormann, T. (2013) “The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in the domain of colors: evidence from healthy and aphasic speakers”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 7(3), pp. 1-14. Available at: http://www.rifl.unical.it/index.php/rifl/article/view/171 (Accessed: 23October2021).