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Re: Morpheme index project

From:Javier BF <uaxuctum@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 27, 2002, 21:28
>>OF COURSE!! > >Okay, okay, I was only trying to be helpful. No need to shout.
My apologies. Well, let's get started, okay? What about colours? I've thought of several ways to dissect this semantic field. To be as culturally neutral as possible, I think we must base it according to 2 factors: 1) the objective features of light and 2) how we perceive them physiologically. As for the first, well, putting it simple, we have on the one hand the basic opposition presence/absence of light and on the other a continuum of frequencies for chromatism. How do we perceive that? Essentially, the retina in our eyes has two kinds of receptors (I can't remember their names right now): one kind for presence/absence of stimulus (light), which makes us perceive "white" (full stimulus), "black" (lack of stimulus) and "grey" (some amount of stimulus); and other kind for chromatic perception. The latter is then subdivided in three subclasses of receptors, each for perceiving one of the three basic hues: roughly "red", "yellow" and "blue". Then, when e.g. a ray of dark green light reaches the retina, it causes a low stimulus in the first kind of receptors (then perceiving it as "dark") and some amount of stimulus in the "yellow" and "blue" second-kind receptors while no stimulus in the "red" ones (then perceiving it as "green"). I think there's little doubt as to how to organize the semantic dissection for what concerns absence/presence of light: two basic morphemes ("white" and "black") and one secondary ("grey"). But, for what concerns chromatism, we have to possible guides: the spectrum (which reflects the objective nature of chromatism) and the chromatic circle (which reflects our way of perceiving it). There's a "colour" in the chromatic circle that properly doesn't belong anywhere in the spectrum: the kind of purple that causes the same amount of stimulus in the "red" and "blue" receptors and no stimulus in the "yellow"; this kind of purple is the exact complementary of "yellow" (I mean the "yellow" that causes stimulus in the "yellow" receptors but no stimulus in the others. That purple cannot appear as a physical "real" colour, so to speak, because it can't be caused to be perceive by any individual frequency but only but chormatically complex light sources that, as a whole, cause the above cited stimulation. Also, the perception "dark green" may be caused by a pure light source that is physically "dark green" (i.e. containing only a small amount of light of the frequencies perceived by itselves as "green") or by a different complex light source that as a whole creates that perception in the eye even though it's not in itself "dark green light". Basing the dissection upon the spectrum, we could go for something like this: (please note that the English terms I use are just approximated equivalents, and that I use capitals for the basic morphemes) (linear diagram) [lowest visible light frequency] - pink/magenta - RED - orange/brown - YELLOW - green - BLUE - violet/purple [highest visible light frequency] Basing it upon the chromatic cirle, we could go for: (circular diagram, merge extremes) . purple/violet/magenta/pink - RED [chromatic receptor "red"] - orange/brown - YELLOW [chromatic receptor "yellow"] - green - BLUE [chromatic receptor "blue"] . purple/violet/magenta/pink We could also go for one of several possible middle ways between both: e.g. introducing two secondary terms between each of the three basic ones, sort of (again, the English equivalents are just approximations): (either linear diagram or circular diagram by joining extremes A and B) .[A: lowest visible light frequency] - pink/magenta - RED [chromatic receptor "red"] - orange - brown/tan - YELLOW [chromatic receptor "yellow"] - green - cyan/azure - BLUE/INDIGO [chromatic receptor "blue"] - purple/violet .[B: highest visible light frequency] According to this last scheme, the "unreal" purple I talked about above would be the "anti-yellow", i.e. the exact mixture or pink-magenta and purple-violet. Also, any term would refer not just to the frequency of light that by itself causes the correspondent perception, but to any complex light that as a whole causes it too (same as done with colour terms in natlangs). The terms would be defined by the centres rather than by their edges, which are impossible to determine accurately for us humans (again same as done in natlangs). We'd also need further morphemes (some of which wouldn't be grouped specifically with colours because they will have other usages), e.g.: - "colour" (in general) - "dark" - "light" - "-ish" ("similar to") - "anti-" (for complementary colours) About "dark" ("blackish") and "light" ("whitish"), we could also add three more morphemes, with the equivalent broad senses of "reddish", "yellowish" and "bluish", which would refer to the stimulation of each of the chromatic receptors without further accuracy. Ideas, suggestions? Cheers, Javier


Pavel Adamek <pavel.adamek@...>Color morphemes