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REVIEWS143 Color and cognition in Mesoamerica: Constructing categories as vantages. By Robert E. MacLaury, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997. Pp. xxvii, 616. Reviewed by Keith Allan, Monash University This magnum opus is the culmination of many years of research into the semantics of color terms in Mesoamerica. During and after the Mesoamerican Color Survey, I combined an improved use of the Munsell instrument' with systematic observation, other people's findings and theories, and fifteen years of thinking about what I saw native consultants do and say during interviews. The results support my conclusion, which separates into three levels of analysis: the observations by themselves, the theory I devised to account for them comprehensively, and broader implications of the theory for a science of cognition. (380) The book embodies an immense amount of information on the perception and naming of colors, including a massive bibliography. To explain color naming, MacLaury presents and demonstrates vantage theory—the theory about points of view. An extensive glossary defines most of the terms M uses, including all those within vantage theory. This book is of interest to anyone concerned with perception, categorization, and naming, and that will include anthropologists , cognitive linguists, semanticists, philosophers, and psychologists. There is also practical advice on field work. The book consists of a foreword by John Taylor and four parts. Part 1, 'Preliminaries', begins with Ch. 1, 'Conceptual and material equipment', which tells about the state ofcolor ethnography when M entered the field and describes the Munsell instrument. An invaluable high quality foldout color map of the 330 chip Munsell array is included. Ch. 2, 'Issues in color ethnography', surveys the field. Ch. 3, 'Descriptive method', describes field equipment, elicitation techniques, and analytical methods. Ch. 4, 'Axioms', presents the perceptual and cognitive axioms that drive category dynamics. Part 2, 'Viewpoint and category change: A continuous typology of relations', starts with Ch. 5, 'Coextensive semantic ranges', which offers an explanation for the fact that two or more basic color terms may refer to the same colors, leading to the explanation for evolutionary change. Ch. 6, 'Vantages', a description and elaboration of vantage theory, is the core of the book. Ch. 7, 'Category division', explains the outcomes of category division and relations between categories in terms of vantage theory. Part 3, 'Further dynamics, reflectivity, and complex categorization', concentrates on cool categories. Ch. 8, 'Skewing and darkening', is also about transference; all three are by-products of the progressive category differentiation that results from people stressing hue over brightness. Ch. 9, 'Submerged versus reflective categorization', seeks to explain the existence and types of multiple foci in terms of subjective engagement and objective detachment. Ch. 10, 'Crossover', is about the crossover of dominant viewpoint from one hue to another as a consequence of stressing the relations that bind juxtaposed hues. Ch. 11, 'Transference versus diffusion: Mesoamerica compared with the world', attempts to explain why different language communities do not necessarily shift foci in the same way. Part 4, 'Conclusion', is Ch. 12, 'Color and categorization', which summarizes the main points made in the book. There are close to 250 figures and tables and eight appendices,2 one of which is a nine-page summary of 100 raw facts referred to, and hopefully accounted for, in the book. Despite the fact that all human beings with normal sight experience the same sensory color data,3 Berlin and Kay (1969) established that languages reveal an evolutionary sequence from two to eleven basic color terms with only minor cross-language variations. M explains the 1 330 Munsell color chips covering the whole color spectrum arrayed as an unsaturated column from W, through eight greys to BK, and an 8 by 40 array of saturated hues (10-2). 2 M has composed a ninth, 'Curves', available from him and perhaps the University of Texas Press URL: http://www.utexas.edu/depts/utpress. 3 M refers to this as 'perception' defined as 'elemental sensory reflexes in the cortex in response to precorneal events' (87). 144LANGUAGE, VOLUME 75, NUMBER 1 (1999) evolution in terms of gradual change that 'consists of rearranging cognitive relations among preexisting terms and pre-existing categories' (104). This is to be expected in a closed...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 143-147
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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