[b-hebrew] Colors and language

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Tue Aug 21 05:04:19 EDT 2007


On 8/21/07, JAMES CHRISTIAN READ wrote:
> the claim that they have no
> expression of colour is immediately contradicted in the
> article by the observation that they use objects whose
> colour is well known to describe colour. Hang on a
> minute! Don't we do that in English (gold, silver,
> copper, bronze, emerald, ruby etc.)?

Hebrew also makes this comparison -- red/blood, yellow/gold,
black/dawn, perhaps even orange/ostracon letter(?), and in
some cases it may be hard to tell which came first -- green/
vegetable.  But what he claims with the Piraha is that they do
not have a single word for any color names.  Thus, one day
they may say, take the gold-colored bowl, the next day,
take the fire-colored bowl, etc.  The choice changes as the
mood changes, and this is not because there are
synonyms in the vocabulary, but because color names are
not in their vocabulary.

You can read more about them here:
http://ldc.upenn.edu/myl/llog/EverettPiraha.pdf
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003125.html

I haven't read all these.

Yitzhak Sapir



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