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Cognitive representation of colour in bilinguals: the case of Greek blues

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/01/2009
<mark>Journal</mark>Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
Issue number1
Volume12
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)83-95
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

A number of recent studies demonstrate that bilinguals with languages that differ in grammatical and lexical categories may shift their cognitive representation of those categories towards that of monolingual speakers of their second language. The current paper extended that investigation to the domain of colour in Greek–English bilinguals with different levels of bilingualism, and English monolinguals. Greek differentiates the blue region of colour space into a darker shade called ble and a lighter shade called ghalazio. Results showed a semantic shift of category prototypes with level of bilingualism and acculturation, while the way bilinguals judged the perceptual similarity between within- and cross-category stimulus pairs depended strongly on the availability of the relevant colour terms in semantic memory, and the amount of time spent in the L2-speaking country. These results suggest that cognition is tightly linked to semantic memory for specific linguistic categories, and to cultural immersion in the L2-speaking country.