There’s something going on here…

…but I don’t have the words for it yet. Pulling my comment from here.

This may be so, but all languages will adopt all the color names when they need to do photorealistic painting, for the purpose of identifying the different shades in that art.

There are languages with larger color name inventories than English.

Of course, this is all about basic color names — there can be non-basic color names (blue-green, dark red, etc. — I think gold and silver aren’t considered basic color names, though I’m not sure why), and between derivation and coining by analogy (see: ‘orange’), you end up with as much specificity as you’d need.

There’s something interesting going on here: on some level it’s all relative [and therefore seemingly random], but on another level, it’s shaped by certain societal forces, technological demands for specificity, etc.

So on the most primitive level, there’s a totally linear gradient from less to more developed, with the West (and especially England) being most developed of all; but on closer examination, this breaks down and it’s all random and relative once you get past colonialist ideology and Western supremacism and so on; but on even closer examination, societal and technological demands imply the existence of some sort of advancement-gradation, since advances in certain fields (which demand specificity of color-names) will end up creating a wider vocabulary of color-names…

…and then, on a fourth level, that can be attacked, since there are languages in Papua New Guinea where certain areas of the color spectrum aren’t lexicalized at all and colors are described by analogy, which presumably would allow at least as much specificity as the English derivation system, but investigation of color names is restricted to basic (i.e. neither derived [dark red is derived from red] nor reducible to a more basic color [maroon is a type of red, but red isn’t a type of anything else] — cf. vörös [ = dark red], which is neither derived from nor reducible to piros [ = red]) color names and that ignores the potential for derivation and analogy and there really ought to be terms for the things that are going on here but there aren’t…

Also on the list of unspeakable things going on:

  • Media becomes more real than reality. Analysis is done only with media-pushed input. GIGO, of course, but it’s more specific than that…
  • The failure of egalitarianism to deal with the large male status-differential. (And other failures of egalitarianism: remember that Pando article on Valleywag? That concept should be crystallized.)
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One response to “There’s something going on here…

  1. E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) May 15, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    I find this a very interesting discussion, hope you continue it

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