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When rainbows have different
colours:
teaching colour terms in Chinese to
Spanish speakers
Thinking Colors: Perception, Translation and Representation
Lisboa, March 2012
Helena Casas-Tost
Sara Rovira-Esteva
Departament de Traducció i Interpretació
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Introduction
}  Aim: a new approach towards teaching colour terms in Chinese
}  Motivation:
}  Chinese and Spanish present remarkable differences at both the linguistic
and the cultural levels as far as colour terms are concerned
}  Traditional approach to the teaching of colours in second language learning
}  Classical approach to categorisation
}  Lexical items are monosemic
}  One-to-one equivalent
}  Neglect of symbolic meanings, metaphorical uses and collocations
}  New approach in second language learning
}  the use of cognitive linguistics can encourage learners to explore the deeper
meanings of grammatical and lexical items, and to think about why languages
express things the way they do, making the learning process more enjoyable
and less dependent on memorisation.
2
State of the art
}  Approaches to the study of colours
}  Cultural anthropology (Berlin and Kay 1969; Rosch 1972, 1975)
}  Linguistic analysis
}  Monolingual studies on colour symbolism and its literary use
}  Contrastive approaches (zh-en)
}  Translation studies approach (zh-en)
}  Cognitive linguistics and foreign language teaching
}  Mainly English as foreign language
}  Chinese: measure words, zhe particle, motion
3
New approach: Cognitive linguistics
}  Polysemy is the norm
}  Prototype theory of categorisation
}  prototypes
}  natural extension members
}  metaphorical extension members
}  fuzzy boundaries between categories (continuum)
}  Principle of family resemblance
}  Figurative thought (metaphor and methonomy)
}  Categories are motivated
}  Categorisation varies across cultures
4
Case study: colour terms
}  Colour terms constitute a “closed” category
}  High frequency words (applicability)
}  Central members coincide across languages
}  Complex categories, with outstanding differences across
languages/cultures
}  White
}  Basic colour
}  Rich in meanings (natural and metaphorical extensions; positive
and negative)
}  Very productive in word formation
5
Cognitive map of the category (white/白 )
6
Constrastive analysis
7
Constrastive analysis
MEANING	 CHINESE	 SPANISH	 TYPE	OF	EXTENSION	
14. Vernacular	language	(白话)	 ü	 û	 Metaphorical	extension	
15. Dialect	(方言)	 ü	 û	 Metaphorical	extension	
16. Orthographic	or	pronunciation	
mistake	(白字)	
ü	 û	 Metaphorical	extension	
17. Clear,	obvious	(明白,清楚)	 ü	 û	 Metaphorical	extension	
18. Legitimate,	proper	(合法的,正当
的)	
ü	 ü	 Metaphorical	extension	
19. Poor	(卑贱,贫寒)	 ü	 û	 Metaphorical	extension	
20. Actor’s	lines	in	traditional	Chinese	
opera	that	are	not	sung,	but	spoken	
(戏曲中只说不唱的台词,戏剧角
色所说的话)	
ü	 û	 Metaphorical	extension	
21. To	state,	to	report	(陈述,表明)	 ü	 û	 Metaphorical	extension	
22. Goal,	aim	(目标,对象)	
û	 ü	
Natural	/	metaphorical	
extension	(metonymy)	
23. Coward	(胆小的)	 û	 ü	 Metaphorical	extension	
24. Old	coin	(made	of	silver)	(古代银币)	
û	 ü	
Natural	extension	
(metonymy)	
25. Musical	note	(二分音符)	
û	 ü	
Natural	extension	
(metonymy)	
	
8
Learning activities (1)
}  Contrastive analysis of figurative meanings of colours
1.  Students are asked to write associations and the figurative
meanings of a list of colours in Spanish.
2.  Based on their experience and intuition, students match
words from a list of different meanings associated to colours
in Chinese with the corresponding colour.
3.  Group discussion about similarities and differences, cultural
motivation, implications (NVL, translation, community
interpreting).
9
Learning activities
颜色	 西班牙文	 中文	
白色		
báisè	
	 	
黑色		
hēisè	
	 	
红色		
hóngsè	
	 	
黄色		
huángsè	
	 	
绿色		
l÷sè	
		 	
蓝色		
lánsè	
	 	
紫色
zǐsè
	 	
灰色
huīsè
	 	
	
10
Learning activities
颜色	 西班牙文	 中文	
白色		
báisè	
Pureza,	virginidad	 	
黑色		
hēisè	
Ilegal,	sucio,	humor	negro	 	
红色		
hóngsè	
Pasión,	violencia,	peligro	 	
黄色		
huángsè	
Mala	suerte	 	
绿色		
l÷sè	
	Ecología,	esperanza	 	
蓝色		
lánsè	
Cielo,	mar,	sangre	azul	 	
紫色
zǐsè
Feminismo	 	
灰色
huīsè
Triste,	apagado,	policía	 	
	
boda, en vano,
menosprecio, luto,
cornudo,
ilegalidad,
seriedad,
mezquino, vacío,
alegría,
pornografía,
brillante,
revolucionario,
reaccionario, mar,
peligro, salud,
éxito, entre
legalidad e
ilegalidad,
permiso, fortuna,
etnia han,
emperador,
juventud, cielo,
poder, envidia
11
Learning activities (2)
}  Conceptual map: fill in the gaps
12
Learning activities (3)
}  Ask students to match expressions with 白 with the
corresponding meaning within the conceptual map.
Expressions with 白 meaning
祝福你 白 到老早生 子。 空白
家公司是他白手起家建成的。 事
我去他家参加一堂白事。 看不起
小 生气地白了我一眼。 白色
13
Concluding remarks
}  Increases students’ cultural awareness and linguistic
competence.
}  Positive feedback from students:
}  enjoyable and fruitful activity
}  raises curiosity and motivation
}  The CL approach is a valid methodology in teaching
Chinese as a foreign language.
}  Great potential for all aspects of language, not just
vocabulary but also grammar, etc.
}  This methodology can be used at all stages of the learning
process.
14
15
Helena.Casas@uab.cat
http://gent.uab.cat/helena_casas_tost/es
Sara.Rovira@uab.cat
http://www.fti.uab.es/srovira/personal
http://grupsderecerca.uab.cat/txicc/es

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When rainbows have different colours: teaching colour terms in Chinese to Spanish speakers

  • 1. When rainbows have different colours: teaching colour terms in Chinese to Spanish speakers Thinking Colors: Perception, Translation and Representation Lisboa, March 2012 Helena Casas-Tost Sara Rovira-Esteva Departament de Traducció i Interpretació Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • 2. Introduction }  Aim: a new approach towards teaching colour terms in Chinese }  Motivation: }  Chinese and Spanish present remarkable differences at both the linguistic and the cultural levels as far as colour terms are concerned }  Traditional approach to the teaching of colours in second language learning }  Classical approach to categorisation }  Lexical items are monosemic }  One-to-one equivalent }  Neglect of symbolic meanings, metaphorical uses and collocations }  New approach in second language learning }  the use of cognitive linguistics can encourage learners to explore the deeper meanings of grammatical and lexical items, and to think about why languages express things the way they do, making the learning process more enjoyable and less dependent on memorisation. 2
  • 3. State of the art }  Approaches to the study of colours }  Cultural anthropology (Berlin and Kay 1969; Rosch 1972, 1975) }  Linguistic analysis }  Monolingual studies on colour symbolism and its literary use }  Contrastive approaches (zh-en) }  Translation studies approach (zh-en) }  Cognitive linguistics and foreign language teaching }  Mainly English as foreign language }  Chinese: measure words, zhe particle, motion 3
  • 4. New approach: Cognitive linguistics }  Polysemy is the norm }  Prototype theory of categorisation }  prototypes }  natural extension members }  metaphorical extension members }  fuzzy boundaries between categories (continuum) }  Principle of family resemblance }  Figurative thought (metaphor and methonomy) }  Categories are motivated }  Categorisation varies across cultures 4
  • 5. Case study: colour terms }  Colour terms constitute a “closed” category }  High frequency words (applicability) }  Central members coincide across languages }  Complex categories, with outstanding differences across languages/cultures }  White }  Basic colour }  Rich in meanings (natural and metaphorical extensions; positive and negative) }  Very productive in word formation 5
  • 6. Cognitive map of the category (white/白 ) 6
  • 8. Constrastive analysis MEANING CHINESE SPANISH TYPE OF EXTENSION 14. Vernacular language (白话) ü û Metaphorical extension 15. Dialect (方言) ü û Metaphorical extension 16. Orthographic or pronunciation mistake (白字) ü û Metaphorical extension 17. Clear, obvious (明白,清楚) ü û Metaphorical extension 18. Legitimate, proper (合法的,正当 的) ü ü Metaphorical extension 19. Poor (卑贱,贫寒) ü û Metaphorical extension 20. Actor’s lines in traditional Chinese opera that are not sung, but spoken (戏曲中只说不唱的台词,戏剧角 色所说的话) ü û Metaphorical extension 21. To state, to report (陈述,表明) ü û Metaphorical extension 22. Goal, aim (目标,对象) û ü Natural / metaphorical extension (metonymy) 23. Coward (胆小的) û ü Metaphorical extension 24. Old coin (made of silver) (古代银币) û ü Natural extension (metonymy) 25. Musical note (二分音符) û ü Natural extension (metonymy) 8
  • 9. Learning activities (1) }  Contrastive analysis of figurative meanings of colours 1.  Students are asked to write associations and the figurative meanings of a list of colours in Spanish. 2.  Based on their experience and intuition, students match words from a list of different meanings associated to colours in Chinese with the corresponding colour. 3.  Group discussion about similarities and differences, cultural motivation, implications (NVL, translation, community interpreting). 9
  • 10. Learning activities 颜色 西班牙文 中文 白色 báisè 黑色 hēisè 红色 hóngsè 黄色 huángsè 绿色 l÷sè 蓝色 lánsè 紫色 zǐsè 灰色 huīsè 10
  • 11. Learning activities 颜色 西班牙文 中文 白色 báisè Pureza, virginidad 黑色 hēisè Ilegal, sucio, humor negro 红色 hóngsè Pasión, violencia, peligro 黄色 huángsè Mala suerte 绿色 l÷sè Ecología, esperanza 蓝色 lánsè Cielo, mar, sangre azul 紫色 zǐsè Feminismo 灰色 huīsè Triste, apagado, policía boda, en vano, menosprecio, luto, cornudo, ilegalidad, seriedad, mezquino, vacío, alegría, pornografía, brillante, revolucionario, reaccionario, mar, peligro, salud, éxito, entre legalidad e ilegalidad, permiso, fortuna, etnia han, emperador, juventud, cielo, poder, envidia 11
  • 12. Learning activities (2) }  Conceptual map: fill in the gaps 12
  • 13. Learning activities (3) }  Ask students to match expressions with 白 with the corresponding meaning within the conceptual map. Expressions with 白 meaning 祝福你 白 到老早生 子。 空白 家公司是他白手起家建成的。 事 我去他家参加一堂白事。 看不起 小 生气地白了我一眼。 白色 13
  • 14. Concluding remarks }  Increases students’ cultural awareness and linguistic competence. }  Positive feedback from students: }  enjoyable and fruitful activity }  raises curiosity and motivation }  The CL approach is a valid methodology in teaching Chinese as a foreign language. }  Great potential for all aspects of language, not just vocabulary but also grammar, etc. }  This methodology can be used at all stages of the learning process. 14