A study of colour words in Shakespeare's works
Colour words have been studied through different perspectives, including scientific, philosophical and anthropological. Although some linguistic research in colour words has been undertaken, an in-depth linguistic study of the colour words used by a literary figure such as Shakespeare has not previously been attempted. A study such as this could be divided into primary or basic colour words, on the one hand, or secondary colour words, on the other hand. This thesis follows the first option and studies the semantics of colour words through their collocates in Shakespeare's works. The thesis considers first the occurrence of colour words in history and culture, the nature of collocation and a review of works on collocation in Shakespeare. The major part of the thesis is devoted to the analysis of the seven basic colours that appear first in the hierarchy outlined by Berlin and Kay. Following Berlin and Kay, white and black are considered as colour words for the purposes of this thesis. The seven basic colour words used are white, black, red, green, yellow, blue and brown. An exception to this rule is that tawny is considered with brown to examine whether an extension of the consideration of colour words might be significant. The remaining basic colour words are not examined in my thesis because they do not occur frequently in Shakespeare's works. Naturally where other colour words, basic and secondary, occur in a collocation with one of the basic colour words examined in the thesis, they are given due attention. The thesis consists of ten chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the reader to the subject by including an introductory survey of the linguistic and literary problems of my work. Chapter 2 outlines the approach and methodology employed in dealing with the colour words. The collocates are collected from Spevack's concordance of Shakespeare's works. This chapter also indicates the organisation and categorisation of the colour words and the texts which have been employed. The Oxford Shakespeare: William Shake. sppeare: The ('omplete Works is used as the main source because it is the most up-to-date, complete and easily accessible one-volume modern spelling text. 7 Chapter 3 deals with the collocates of white. It includes 169 quotations whose collocates are grouped under six categories: (parts of the body, nature, cloth, emotional/ moral attitude, white with other colours and miscellaneous). Chapter 4 deals with the collocates of black. It includes 202 quotations to cover the following semantic fields (night, dress/mask, death/mourning and funeral, parts of the body/complexion, devil'-'v. il. disaster, black and other colours, ink/writing, emotional/moral attitude, miscellaneous). Chapter 5 deals with the collocates of red. It includes 107 quotations to cover the following semantic fields (parts of the body, blood, emotional/moral attitude, disease, red and other colours, nature and miscellaneous). Chapter 6 deals with the collocates of green. It includes 113 quotations with the following categories (sea, nature, immaturity, sickness, eye and miscellaneous). Chapter 7 deals with the collocates of yellow. It includes 35 quotations with the following categories (cloth, youth/immaturity, old age/decay, nature, disease/jealousy and yellow and other colours. Chapter 8 deals with the collocates of blue. It includes 35 quotations with the following categories (parts of the human body, dress, nature, blue and other colours and miscellaneous). And Chapter 9 deals with the collocates of brown & tawny. Brown includes 25 quotations with the following categories (hair/head, complexion, food/drink, brown and other colours and miscellaneous). Tawny includes 8 quotations with the following categories (complexion, lifelessness, cloth, tawny and other colours and miscellaneous). Chapter 10 summaries my research and pinpoints the openings for further investigation in this area of study. Further research might, for instance, cover a study of a wider area of secondary colours and a thorough analysis of the vocabulary where the colour word is implied and not explicitly expressed.