moonflower77: (Default)
adapted from 6 february 2013:

these are the meanings for the basic color terms in t'elχ (defined as non-derived, morphologically simple words used by the general population on a regular basis).

term 1. black [equivalent of the latin niger] as of an unpolished black rock or a sheet of black paper.

term 2. shiny, glossy black [equivalent of the latin ater] as of coal, a wet and polished black pebble or black quartz crystals.

term 3. dead white [equivalent of the latin candidus] as of a sheet of white paper or whitewash in dull lighting, or of white clay.

term 4. bright, brilliant white [equivalent of the latin albus] as of a sheet of white paper or whitewash illuminated by bright sunlight, or of white quartz crystals.

term 5. bluish-white or light blue. bright, brilliant white with a slight bluish tinge, which may include the palest, softest hues of blue - think of a sky half-covered in a haze or in cirrus clouds.

term 6. azure or bright blue [near-equivalent of the russian goluboy]. as of a bright clear sky on a sunny day.

term 7. mid-blue [near-equivalent of the russian siniy]. as of cobalt blue dye.

term 8. blue-black or inky blue [rough equivalent of the latin lividus]. the darkest blue hues (midnight blue or deep indigo) that would be indistinguishable from black at a distance.

term 9. violet. as of lilac flowers or amethyst crystals. medieval european royal blue would probably fall between this and bright blue or mid-blue, with possible variations toward either end depending on the pigment.

term 10. violet-black or inky violet. as of the skin of an aubergine or black plum, the flesh and juice of black berries (bilberry, blackberry, blueberry, mulberry), or most red wine. the darkest hues of violet indistinguishable from black at a distance.

term 11. ultraviolet. this term has no equivalent in human languages as we cannot see it other than through a specialized uv-filter.

term 12. iridescent violet, ultraviolet or blue. again, no equivalent is available in human languages. some insects and flowers have markings in this color invisible to the naked human eye but visible to some birds and other insects.

term 13. purple, red, pink [equivalent of the xitsonga tschwuka]. this category encompasses colors an english or russian speaker would tend to see as distinct from each other and includes a diverse range of hues, from those of boiled salmon or shellfish to red berries (raspberries, strawberries, red mulberries) to fuchsia flowers to blood. dark, intense purple, such as raw carmine dye and the roman royal purple pigment derived from the murex snail or its orchil equivalent, could fall into this category, but, if sufficiently saturated, they would veer over into dark reddish-brown or even violet-black.

term 14. red-brown. as of rust, ferrous sand, red brick, or burnt sienna dye. terracota, copper and ginger hair would be seen as belonging to this category, and so might a carrot, fire and flaming copper-red hair, though these may also be classified as orange (but never red).
the latin rufus and russus could be said to be a combination of both "purple, red, pink" and "red-brown".

term 15. dark reddish-brown. a rich, dark color, sometimes with a violet tinge. as of mahogany wood, burnt carmine dye, garnet or darker, higher-saturation venetian red dye. some speakers may define red wine such as burgundy as belonging to this category. 

term 16. brown. covers a vast range of hues, from dark brown, as of most tree bark and raw umbre or burnt umbre dye, to the lighter browns seen in timber, sand and rocks.

term 17. intense yellow-brown or golden-brown. as of most varieties of raw ochre dye.

term 18. subdued yellow-brown. includes a broad range of duller, dirtier yellowish-brown hues.

term 19. yellow. includes hues from bright yellow, as of lemon fruit, mimosa flowers, sunflowers, buttercups, some egg yolks or lighter cadmium yellow dye to pale, dull yellow, as of blonde hair and white wine, though on the extreme light end the latter may border on off-white.

term 20. golden-yellow [equivalent of the latin luteus]. the intense hue between yellow and orange an english or russian speaker would categorize as either of the two. as of deep cadmium yellow dye, egg yolk or most saffron-dyed fabric.

term 21. orange. as of orange fruit, the fur of a marmalade/orange cat, pumpkin and some saffron-dyed fabric, possibly also flaming copper-red hair.

term 22. green. as of the leafy or grassy parts of most plants. due to the pervasive association with vegetation, speakers would be likely to describe an asparagus or green tea infusion as this, despite them being closer, respectively, to "gray, gray-blue, gray-green" or "yellow".

term 23. gray, gray-blue or gray-green. includes gray and the dull intermediate hues of blue and green that eventually merge with gray. one would see many of those in the sea. aquamarine or turquoise hues with an even proportion of blue and green, such as those found in the sea (again), would tend to be classified under this label rather than either green or blue.
term 24. off-white, impure (dirty) white or very light brown [equivalent of the xitsonga basa]. includes white with a hint of brown, yellow or gray and extremely pale creamy and sandy shades.
(the colors of the objects given as seen by a human with normal color vision, not one of the t'elχ themselves)
the system makes an unusual number of distinctions within the blue - violet - ultraviolet and brown - orange - yellow sections of the spectrum. the former is due to the fact that the t'elχ are tetrachromats with an ultraviolet receptor in addition to the red, green and blue ones, and their exoskeletons have extensive, complex violet and iridescent ultraviolet markings depending on their strand (caste) and function within the collective organism. the latter can be traced to their habitat, a desert and semi-desert area dominated by reddish sand and rocks rich in ferrous oxides, with smaller stretches of whitish sands or brown rocky outcroppings. apart from the markings, t'elχ exoskeletons largely come in various shades of brown for the sake of camouflage, from mid-brown to a deep burgundy.

i never intended this to be a reflection of the sapir-whorf hypothesis, more of the opposite position - that the conditions of life may influence language and determine its lexical inventory, including that used for color. if the environment is characterized by a particular range of colors, the language may (though not necessarily) develop more words for them because there could be a greater practical need to discuss these particular colors in conversation as opposed to any others.
characteristics of the basic color terms:

there is a shiny vs. non-shiny distinction for black, white, and ultraviolet/violet/blue.
on one end of the spectrum, violet and blue are seen as bleeding into or merging with black; on the other end, blue gradually blends into white. similarly, there is no distinct line between brown and white.

there is a special term for ultraviolet, which is not named in human languages owing to the simple fact that we cannot see the wavelength.

in the yellow part of the spectrum, there are terms for three colors instead of the usual one (yellow) or two (yellow and orange). the third color is positioned exactly in the middle between the remaining two and is salient enough to be granted separate status.

with brown, the system not only accounts for differences in saturation and lightness but differentiates between several varieties of reddish and yellowish brown, as well as extremely light brown.

no distinction is made between gray and certain hues of green and blue, which is reminiscent of the human languages that have a single word for gray and blue or gray, blue and green (cf. the welsh glas), but here it doesn't concern all the hues of the two basic colors, only the blues and greens that are sufficiently similar to gray or mixed hues lying on or close to the dividing line between blue and green.

green is merely acknowledged. the red part of the spectrum has so little salience a vast range of hues are gathered together under a single term.

berlin and kay define basic color terms as 1) not derived from any other word, such as the name of an object, 2) not compound or formed through affixation, 3) not rare, exotic or technical words used by the members of specific professions, rather than the general population, and 4) psychologically salient, i.e. they are the first thing any native speaker (even a child) would think of when asked to name the most important colors. all of these apply to the terms above, except for 3), which would would be hard to apply to a collective species, as they share a single consciousness, and, by extension, the knowledge and use of any linguistic terms would be uniform across the entire population. as such, however, t'elχ could have many more terms for colors, but they would be derived, more complex and less frequently used.


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