Illustrated dissertation – What’s the use of colour?

Illustrations for a dissertation written by my sister Sammie Tarenskeen, on overspecification of colour in our language. (Specifically, on the role of salience in referential overspecification – not the easiest thing you will ever read, but nonetheless fascinating!)

To put this very very simply, Sammie’s text discusses the phenomenon of one, when referring to (for instance) an object, unneccessarily mentioning the colour of this object. Like: “could you hand me the yellow stapler?” When there is only one stapler in the room.
The book uses examples of overspecification of colour like this throughout. I decided to illustrate one appealing example from each chapter, and will provide you with those sentences too, so you will get an idea of what the drawings are about.




01 Sam by Menah online

“Imagine, for example, a speaker requesting her addressee to pass her a yellow cup, which happens to be surrounded by blue plates and bowls.”

02 Sam by Menah online

Acknowledgements: climbing grips as a metaphor for strength from within and support from without while writing a thesis

03 Sam by Menah online

And they [referring expressions] can contain a high amount of descriptive content (‘the woman who was the first female conductor in the Netherlands and moved to the United States after the Second World War’) or a very low amount (‘that one’).

04 Sam by Menah online

For example, if all objects in a context are shoes, ‘the shoe’ is underspecified in this context when the speaker wishes to refer to one of them, and she would normally use a more specific term, like ‘the loafer’.

05 Sam by Menah online

“Hand me the yellow stapler”

06 Sam by Menah online

“It can also occur on a higher level […]: a blue banana will in general be more salient than a yellow banana.”

07 Sam by Menah online

“Imagine, for example, a situation in which Dunya wants Eyad to pass her a cushion. […] For instance, a red cushion surrounded by five green cushions is normally more salient than a red cushion surrounded by two red and three green cushions.”

08 Sam by Menah online

This wooly hat is an illustrative mash-up of elements used in scientific experiments discussed in this chapter, such as a hat, patterns, and more or less salient colours.

10 Sam by Menah online

“Imagine, for instance, that someone enters a room full of vases in different colours, two of which are red and only one of them made of porcelain.”

11 Sam by Menah online

“Surprise can occur on a low level, for example, when an object is unique on one or more dimensions (Treisman and Gelade, 1980), such as a blue round candy among red cubic candies.”

09 Sam by Menah online

Illustration for the chapter: ‘Conclusions’