cover of book

Color and Cognition in Mesoamerica: Constructing Categories as Vantages
by Robert E. MacLaury
University of Texas Press, 1996
Paper: 978-0-292-72955-1 | Cloth: 978-0-292-75193-4
Library of Congress Classification E59.P87M33 1997
Dewey Decimal Classification 152.14508997072


More than 100 indigenous languages are spoken in Mexico and Central America. Each language partitions the color spectrum according to a pattern that is unique in some way. But every local system of color categories also shares characteristics with the systems of other Mesoamerican languages and of languages elsewhere in the world.

This book presents the results of the Mesoamerican Color Survey, which Robert E. MacLaury conducted in 1978-1981. Drawn from interviews with 900 speakers of some 116 Mesoamerican languages, the book provides a sweeping overview of the organization and semantics of color categorization in modern Mesoamerica.

Extensive analysis and MacLaury's use of vantage theory reveal complex and often surprising interrelationships among the ways languages categorize colors. His findings offer valuable cross-cultural data for all students of Mesoamerica. They will also be of interest to all linguists and cognitive scientists working on theories of categorization more generally.

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