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Title: Children's colour naming and a test of the linguistic relativity hypothesis
Author: Boyles, Samantha Keri
ISNI:       0000 0001 3474 2908
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2001
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English and Ndonga-speaking Namibian children completed three tasks designed to investigate colour term usage. English children used separate terms for the focal examples of the eleven universal colour categories BLACK, WHITE, RED, GREEN, YELLOW, BLUE, BROWN, PINK, PURPLE, ORANGE and GREY (Berlin and Kay 1969). In contrast, Namibian children used separate terms for just the first six categories, in some cases these terms were extended to examples of the remaining categories but children often responded that they did not know the names of pink and purple colours. Experiments varying in the degree to which naming strategies might be useful, were conducted to test the linguistic relativity hypothesis, that differences in naming are paralleled by differences in performance on cognitive tasks. Four- to seven-year-old children participated in colour-based recognition memory, grouping, odd-one-out and visual search tasks. There was an overall similarity in children's performance, with both groups' responses relating to the perceptual similarity between stimuli. However, significant differences were found in the types of memory confusions made, the stimuli which children grouped together and odd- one-out choices, in each case differences were consistent with the linguistic differences between the groups. The most perceptual of the tasks, visual search, also revealed a significant difference in children's response times when identifying targets in an array of distractors. The results support the linguistic relativity hypothesis and are consistent with both of the accounts of linguistic effects suggested by Davies and Corbett (1997). Children may use explicit naming strategies or effects may be due to the perceptual warping of colour space. The lack of clear age effects and the results of the visual search task support the latter interpretation but further research needs to be conducted to establish whether young children actively use naming strategies during these tasks.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available