Full-text resources of CEJSH and other databases are now available in the new Library of Science.
Visit https://bibliotekanauki.pl


2019 | 8 | 81-91

Article title

Orange Lemons, Yellow People, Brown Oranges: Language Contact and Changes in the Basic Irish Colour Te r m Buí


Title variants

Languages of publication



The aim of this paper is to look at the changes currently taking place in regards to the Basic Colour Term buí in Irish. Irish, a Celtic language, is, along with English, one of the official languages of Ireland although it is very much a minority one, with an overwhelming number of L2 speakers of varying linguistic ability. As a result of this, and the fact that the language itself is surrounded by a sea of English, English syntax and vocabulary—and its way of perceiving the world—is constantly being brought to bear on the language, and L1 speakers are continually being exposed to this and coming under its influence. One illustration of this is the Basic Colour Term buí. Traditionally, this term had its focus on ‘yellow’ but also covered ‘orange’ through light brown or ‘tan’. However, it is nowadays most frequently understood by L2 speakers as a one-to-one equivalent for the English term ‘yellow’, with oráiste‘orange’ and donn ‘brown’ being used, as in English, to cover those other shades that would traditionally be part of buí. To this end, I present results from field-work carried out amongst L1 native speakers of Irish to see how far this change has taken place in their own understanding of the language and how much the traditional Irish colour system is yielding to that of English.


  • The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin


Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.