Paul Kay

Professor Emeritus

Picture of Paul Kay
color naming and perception, grammar, lexicon
Languages: English, French
B.A., Tulane; Ph. D., Harvard
Research areas: Language & Cognition

Contact Information

Office: ICSI
Phone: (510) 685-5823
Alternate phone: (510) 685-5823
Fax: (510) 666-2956
Web Site:
Mailing address:
ICSI, 1947 Center St., Suite 600
Berkeley, CA 94704

Personal Statement

Ph.D. Social Anthropology, Harvard University, 1963. After a year's postdoctoral research at Stanford University sponsored by the Social Science Research Council, a year's teaching at MIT and a year's fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, he joined the Berkeley Anthropology Department in 1966, where he remained until moving to the Department of Linguistics in 1982. His research has covered many topics in linguistics and linguistic anthropology, including lexical semantics, sociolinguistics, variation theory, semantics, syntax and pragmatics. Particular areas of emphasis of his research have included the cross-language color naming and color perception and the encoding of contextual relations in rules of grammar. Details on color naming research are available on the World Color Survey web page,

Selected publications

1969. Basic Color Terms. Brent Berlin & Paul Kay. Berkeley & Los Angeles. U. of CA Press.

1997. Words and the Grammar of Context. Center for the Study of Language and Information: Stanford, California: Stanford University.

2009. The World Color Survey. Paul Kay, Brent Berlin, Luisa Maffi, William R. Merrifield, and Richard Cook. Stanford: Center for the Study of Language and Information.

2012. Cleaning up the Big Mess: Discontinuous dependencies and complex determiners. Paul Kay & Ivan A. Sag. in Sign-Based Construction Grammar. ed. Hans C. Boas & Ivan A. Sag. Stanford: CSLI.

2012. Constructional meaning and compositionality. Paul Kay & Laura A. Michaelis. in Semantics: in International Handbook of Natural language Meaning. ed. Claudia Maienborn, Klaus von Heusinger & Paul Portner. The Hague: De Gruyter Mouton.

2012. Color categories and color appearance. Michael A. Webster and Paul Kay. Cognition. 122, 375-392.

2013. The limits of Construction Grammar. Paul Kay. in The Oxford Handbook of Construction Grammar. ed. Thomas Hoffmann & Graeme Trousdale. Oxford: Oxford U. Press.

in press. The World Color Survey. Paul Kay & Richard S. Cook. in Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology. ed. Ronnier Luo. New York/Heidelberg: Springer.

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