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Perceptual constraints on colours induce the universality of linguistic colour categorisation.

Gong, Tao; Gao, Hangxian; Wang, Zhen; Shuai, Lan.
Sci Rep; 9(1): 7719, 2019 May 22.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31118469
The universal linguistic colour categorisation pattern as evident in the World Colour Survey (WCS) has been a principal focus of investigations on the relationship between language and cognition, yet most existing studies have failed to clarify whether this universality resulted primarily from individual perceptual constraints and/or socio-cultural transmissions. This paper designed an agent-based, unsupervised learning model to address the relative importance of these two aspects to linguistic colour categorisation. By directly comparing with the empirical data in the WCS, our study demonstrated that: the physical colour stimuli that reflect human perceptual constraints on colours trigger a categorisation pattern quantitatively resembling the WCS data, the randomised stimuli that distort such constraints lead to distinct categorisation patterns, and the processes of linguistic categorisation in both cases follow similar dynamics. These results reveal how perceptual and socio-cultural factors interact with each other to trigger linguistic universality, and serve as decisive evidence that human perceptual constraints induce the universality in linguistic categorisation, yet socio-cultural transmissions, though imperative, play an auxiliary role of transcribing perceptual constraints into common linguistic categories with slight variations.
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