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Colour terms

From:Chris Bates <christopher.bates@...>
Date:Wednesday, April 16, 2003, 12:15
I forgot to post this on the list but after our last discussion of
colour terms I found a very interesting few pages on said subject in a
book I bought from a cheap bookshop on how the brain works (its all
guesswork but never mind). What the article basically claimed is that
the extent of the different colour terms varies (ie how much of the
surrounding spectrum they encompass) but that a survey of a number of
languages which asked people to choose the best example of each colour
in their language (which red is most red etc) found that generally these
'ideal' examples were the same between languages with few exceptions. So
the book was suggesting that although the extent of colour terms may
change from language to language, the ideal representations of a
languages' colour terms tend to be similar. This seems to me to fit with
the welsh colour terms, although it doesn't fit with the russian
distinction in basic terms between dark and light blue because blue was
one peak on the neat little graph in the book lol.
 It went on to talk about abnormal colour terms drifting to the start
because of some complicated explanation involving brain activity which I
forget, but the example it gave was a colour "grue" originally being the
colour of a kind of moss and become generalized, which I suppose might
explain the russian colour terms after all because if russian had two
more specific  or two abnormal colour words, both tending to a general
blue, then if they didn't cancel each other out then they would reach a
balance where neither could move closer to the ideal blue without the
two becoming too similar, and all the other ideal colours would already
have names so one couldn't drift farther apart to a different peak on
the graph. Anyway, its probably all rubbish just thought I would mention it.