Lambda the Ultimate

inactiveTopic Draining the Language out of Color
started 4/12/2004; 10:15:40 AM - last post 4/13/2004; 7:24:09 AM
Chris Rathman - Draining the Language out of Color  blueArrow
4/12/2004; 10:15:40 AM (reads: 10313, responses: 3)
Draining the Language out of Color
Today's defense of linguistic relativity is brought to you by the color "Grue".

Color lexicons vary, first of all, in sheer size: English has 11 basic terms, Russian and Hungarian have 12, yet the New Guinean language Dani has just two. One of the two encompasses black, green, blue and other "cool" colors; the other encompasses white, red, yellow and other "warm" colors. Those languages with only three terms almost always have "black-cool," "white-light" and "red-yellow-warm." Those having a fourth usually carve out "grue" from the "black-cool" term.

And did I mention that it's a very mild defense:

Here, then, is an example of language categories molding thought and behavior in a striking way. Kay concludes that linguistic relativists may be correct that the languages people speak mold their thoughts. "But it is unlikely that the various languages of the world are so different from one another, in underlying conceptual structure, that the ways their speakers think are incommensurable."

Additional info on this aspect of linguistics seen on LtU: Color Cognition and Language.
Posted to general by Chris Rathman on 4/12/04; 10:18:11 AM

Adam Vandenberg - Re: Draining the Language out of Color  blueArrow
4/12/2004; 2:26:17 PM (reads: 252, responses: 0)
A little Googling around on "11 basic color terms english" came up with:

black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, brown, purple, pink, orange, grey

Having had a C64 growing up, I sometimes still think of "cyan" being a basic color.

Marc Hamann - Re: Draining the Language out of Color  blueArrow
4/12/2004; 5:50:53 PM (reads: 240, responses: 0)
And did I mention that it's a very mild defense:

I'll just leave it there... ;-)

Chris Rathman - Re: Draining the Language out of Color  blueArrow
4/13/2004; 7:24:09 AM (reads: 186, responses: 0)
Was kind of wondering what the 11 colors were. Always remember the rainbow acronym of ROY G BIV from my elementary teacher. Wonder when they came up with all those other color names?

As long as we're discussing this, I don't see the study as a matter of linguistic differences, so much as a matter of vocabulary (but then maybe they overlap). The beauty of languages is not so much that they have a word for every possibility, but rather that they can invent and usurp words at the drop of the hat.

I know english is none for it's ability to borrow words from other languages, as well as invent new ones on the fly. Is there some property to certain languages which allow easier integration of new words? Or is it just a cultural thing?