But Berlin and Kay found a further surprising result. The order in which basic color categories enter languages is not arbitrary either. If a language has only two colors—and all languages have at least two—they are always white and black; if a language has three colors, the one added is red; if a fourth is added, it will be either green or yellow; when a fifth is added, it will then include both green and yellow; the sixth added is blue; the seventh added is brown; and if an eight or more terms are added, it or they will be purple, pink, orange, or gray. Considerable subsequent research on color classification has necessitated modifications in this sequence, yet basic color terms apparently evolve in a largely universal pattern (Witkowski and Brown 1978). Berlin and Kat (1969:159) dismiss “extreme linguistic-cultural relativism”, at least with respect to basic color term, as a “myth created by linguists and anthropologists”.
Donald E. Brown. Human Universals. McGraw-Hill. 1991.
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