From green to turquoise: Exploring age and socioeconomic status in the acquisition of color terms

Molly E. Scott*, Junko Kanero, Noburo Saji, Yu Chen, Mutsumi Imai, Roberta M. Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous research demonstrates that children delineate more nuanced color boundaries with increased exposure to their native language. As socioeconomic status (SES) is known to correlate with differences in the amount of language input children receive, this study attempts to extend previous research by asking how both age (age 3 vs 5) and SES (under-resourced vs advantaged) might impact color name acquisition of preschool children. The results confirm the findings of previous research, showing that older children labeled the color continuum more accurately than did younger participants. In addition, we found that while SES did not make a difference in how children labeled the continuum using basic color terms (e.g. blue), basic color terms with achromatic modifiers (e.g. light blue), and compound terms (e.g. blueish-green), 5-year-olds from more advantaged economic environments used significantly more non-basic color terms (e.g. turquoise) compared to their counterparts from under-resourced environments. We suggest that, as children hear more non-basic terms, these world-to-word mappings become solidified, and exposure to such labels may contribute to the timing of when children can map those terms to the color continuum.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFirst Language
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Category learning
  • color words
  • language acquisition
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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