Cultural Unit Yellow in the Bible. Lack of Sign is a Sign


From the perspective of color semiotics, Almalech traces the almost complete absence of basic terms for yellow (three uses) in the Old Testament and applies his original approach to color semiotics. The author follows different types of words – basic color terms (BCT), prototype terms (PT), rival terms for prototypes (RT), and terms for basic features of prototypes (TBFP). He calls these four cognitive channels mega color in the frame of cultural unit yellow. The author offers his hypothesis to the absence of mega yellow.

Mony Almalech (Sofia, Bulgaria)


A l m a l e c h, M. Tsvyat i slovo. Pragmatichni i psiholingvistichni aspekti. Sofia, 2001.

A l m a l e c h, M. Advertisements: signs of femininity and their corresponding colour meanings. Sofia, 2011.

A l m a l e c h, M. Colour as cultural unit. Challenges and developments. – In: Umberto Eco in his own words (= Semiotics, Communication and Cognition, 19). Ed. by T. Thellefsen, B. Sørensen. Berlin, 2017, p. 206–213.

A l m a l e c h, M. Cultural unit green in the Old Testament. – Language and Semiotic Studies, 3 (2017), № 2, p. 22–50.

A l m a l e c h, M. The cultural unit black in the Old Testament. – In: Discourses on colour. Ed. by D. Gonigroszek. Piotrów Trybunalski, 2018, p. 27–60.

A l m a l e c h, M. Colors as a semiotic tool for Bible analysis. – In: Sign, Method and the Sacred. New Directions in Semiotic Methodologies for the Study of Religion (= Religion and Reason, vol. 64. Semiotics of Religion, vol. 5). Ed. by J. Cronbach Van Boom, T.-A. Põder. Berlin, 2021, р. 243–265.

B e r l i n, B., P. K a y. Basic colour terms: Their universality and evolution. Berkeley, 1969.

B o r g, A. The colour categories of the Negev Beduin. – In: The Language of colour in the Mediterranean. Ed. by Al. Borg. Stockholm, 1999, p. 121–147.

B o r g, A. Towards a history and typology of colour categorization in Colloquial Arabic. – In: Anthropology of Colour: Interdisciplinary multilevel modeling. Ed. by R. MacLaury, G. Paramei, D. Dedrick. Amsterdam, 2007, p. 263–293.

B r e n n e r, A. Colour terms in the Old Testament (= Journal for the study of Old Testament. Supplement series, 21). Sheffield, 1982.

B r e n n e r, A. On color and sacred in the Hebrew Bible. – In: The Language of color in the Mediterranean. Ed. by Al. Borg. Stockholm, 1999, p. 200–207.

B u l a k h, M. Basic colour terms of biblical Hebrew in diachronic aspect. – Babel und Bibel, 3 (2006), p. 181–216.

D a n a, F. The ritual significance of yellow among the Romans. Ph.D. Dissertation thesis. Philadelphia, 1919.

Е c o, U. How culture conditions the colours we see. – In: On Signs. Еd. by M. Blonsky. Baltimore, 1985, p. 157–175 (2nd ed. in: The communication theory reader. Ed. by P. Cobley. New York, 1996, p. 148–171).

G e s e n i u s, W. Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. 18th ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996 (based on the 1847 edition).

G l a d s t o n e, W. Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age. London, 1858.

H a r t l e y, J. The semantics of ancient Hebrew colour lexemes. Louvain, 2010.

K a y, P.,  L. M a f f i. Colour appearance and the emergence and evolution of basic colour lexicons. – American Anthropologist, 101 (1999), № 4, p. 743–760.