Information-theoretic efficiency and semantic variation: The case of color naming

AbstractA major question in semantic typology is how to account for semantic universals and variation in a principled and unified way. One approach to this question proposes that word meanings may reflect adaptation to pressure for efficient communication. Color is a semantic domain that has been approached in this spirit. Recent work has relied on the notion of the `informativeness' of word meaning, has often cast that notion in terms borrowed from information theory, and has accounted for several aspects of color naming across languages on that basis.


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