The implication of the lexicon contrastive analysis of colors in Persian & English in perception and translation of colors


  • Hamideh Sadat Bagherzadeh University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (UWM)
  • Aqil Izadysadr



lexicon, contrastive analysis, colors, translation, perception, Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis


Color is all around but it is not everywhere treated in the same way. The terms people use to describe colors give another means of exploring the relationship between different languages and cultures. One field we can see the manifestation of this relationship is translation because we sometimes cannot directly translate color words from one language to another without introducing subtle changes in meaning, or the perception of the same colors in different languages may be different due to different cultures (Wardhaugh, 2006). This study aims at investigating the contrastive comparison of color lexicons – in terms of number and variety as well as their perception – in Persian and English and its effect on translation; moreover, by utilizing this cross-cultural study of color perception, want to investigate whether or not this research is in harmony with previous research – specifically the Weak Version of Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis advocating that language influences perception. The findings of this study are the result of a long process of investigating many English and Persian dictionaries, art and graphic books, personal interviews with artists, and some tasks for translators and even native speakers of both languages. After finding the specific types and lexicons of colors, we found some colors with no equivalent in the other language. Therefore, those color terms were the stimulus for our tasks. We provided some tasks and asked 50 English-Persian translators who were Persian native speakers and 50 English native speakers (Because of the limitation of access to English-Persian translators who are also English native speakers) for their perception of those colors in order to find out how perception of the colors with no equivalent in the native language would affect the translation. Results revealed that 98% of translators had difficulty perceiving and translating the two different color lexicons for which Persian had no equivalent, and 99% of translators had difficulty translating 15 different color lexicons, which were chosen among 32 color lexicons of Persian with no English equivalent. Similarly, 97% of English native speakers had difficulty perceiving the translated Persian color lexicons to English, for which they had no certain equivalent. Having compared the results of data collection in Persian and English, the researchers found that there are statistically significant similarities and differences between Persian and English color terms. Comparing the results revealed that the two languages are similar in the number of basic colors; however, color types are more various in Persian while there are more terms for one single color in English; therefore, the marked similarity of color grouping in Persian and English suggests some evidence that color grouping is universal and is inconsistent with the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis. However, part of the results, which shows differences in the perception of colors in two languages, is consistent with the Weak Version of Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis. Consequently, as an implication of the study in EFL/ESL and translation, the study provides some evidence which could be a source in translation of color terms in Persian and English.

Author Biography

  • Hamideh Sadat Bagherzadeh, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (UWM)
    Distinguished Dissertation Fellow (Instructor) at the Linguistics Department of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee




How to Cite

Bagherzadeh, Hamideh Sadat, and Aqil Izadysadr. 2020. “The Implication of the Lexicon Contrastive Analysis of Colors in Persian & English in Perception and Translation of Colors”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 5 (1): 282–292.