Colours in Danish Poetry

Winnie Collin, Tobias Løndorf Rosenkrands, Nynne Billesbølle Tworek & Camilla Skov

Student thesis: Project on Graduate Program


This thesis examines the use of colour terms in Danish poetry. In the first part of the thesis we investigate the meaning of the four colour terms blå (blue), grøn (green), gul (yellow) and hvid (white) and how they relate to specific prototypes and associations in a Danish context. The study involved 20 people that were asked to name the best example of the different colours, and another 20 people that were asked to name what they associated with the different colours. The results are presented in the thesis via the linguistic approach called Natural Semantic Metalanguage. The investigation led us to the results that the prototypes for the four colours are as follows: blå (blue) - himmel (sky) and hav (sea); grøn (green) - græs (grass) and planter (plants); gul (yellow) - sol (sun) and citron (lemon); hvid (white) - sne (snow) and lagner (sheets).
These colour definitions make up the foundation of the central examination which is the linguistic analysis of 40 excerpts from Danish poetry where colour terms are present. In the excerpts we identified three major patterns concerning the use of colour terms and their conventional meaning. The first pattern was the application of colour terms in a conventional way. The second pattern was the use of colour in non-conventional contexts, but where the meaning was found in the figure of speech via the colour associations found in our investigation and an interpretation of the prototypes. The last pattern was a complete discord in the use of colour terms and their conventions.
The examination show that the cultural specific meaning of colours play a key part in trying to establish an understanding of poetic language where the non-conventional use of a colour term is applied.

EducationsDanish, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Graduate
Publication date15 Dec 2016
Number of pages60
SupervisorsCarsten Levisen