Vesna Waite

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The subject of the analysis in this paper is the relation of colours and colour idiomatic expressions to the human mind perception and their correct interpretation resulting from this relation. Both associations of colours and the origins of colour idioms can contribute to a better comprehension of the actual meaning of the colour idioms. Reflexive associations colours have to the human mind, in some cases being correct and in others the association being shifted to different meaning, lead to the proper translation or impose difficulties for the correct translation in which case the etymology could be of great assistance in proper interpretation. This paper consists of two parts: the theoretical part and the analytical part. In the theoretical part the semantic properties of idioms as grammatical units are represented for the purpose of a better comprehension of their structure. Berlin and Kay (1969) presented the theory in their study “Basic Colour Terms: Their Universalities and Evolution” which is included in the paper as a way of establishing the manner in which the human mind perceives colours. In the analytical part, the influence of certain colours on the way the human mind perceives them and interprets the colour idiomatic expressions is analyzed through association shifting, literal transferability and variations of associations among various languages. The method used in the research is direct sampling from dictionaries, and the data was studied by the use of etymological and structural analysis. Representative samples of colour-based idioms were chosen from the lexicon of idiomatic expressions commonly used in the English language. The purpose is to demonstrate the degree of flexibility of the perception of colour within the idiomatic expression.


colour idioms, etymology, human mind, perception, idioms, origins, transferability

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