Re: Weird little color system
|From:||Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, August 7, 2004, 6:52|
--- Roger Mills <rfmilly@...> wrote:
> Trebor wrote:
> > Paul wrote: "I think the point was that in the
> languages everyone is
> > familiar with, if one is derived from the other,
> it'll be "left" derived
> > from "right", rather than dublex-wise."
> > Why would it be more likely one way or the other?
> In many traditional cultures, right is good, left is
> bad-- the left hand is
> tabooed for many activities-- eating in particular,
> touching, handling etc.
> At least in Indonesia, the reasoning is that one
> uses the left hand to clean
> oneself after going to the toilet.
Yes, in many countries it is so. The question is : why
? More precisely : why are human hands specialized,
and why is usually the right hand considered as
"good", and the left one as "bad" ?
I heard theories about that, related to the origin of
mankind. Something about carving stones, for ex,
though I can't remember why, when carving stones, it
should be better to use left hand to hold the stone
and right hand to strike. Another theory referred to
mothers holding their child against their breast, on
the side of the heart, so that the regular noise would
calm the child. The fact is that the heart IS rather
on the left side, which could introduce the initial
dissymetry (while we cannot see any natural dissimetry
when looking simply at the hands, or at the feet).
But another fact is that there are many more
right-handed people that left-handed, and that seems
to be an innate feature, when considering an
individual. So, what is cultural, and what is innate ?
Why are there more right-handed people ?
If it is a natural rule that man is physiologically
rather right-handed than left-handed (this being a
question about brain morphology and connexions), then
the reason why left is considered as bad would be
obvious: the minorities are always wrong, they are
"not like everybody", they are deviants (thus we
should kill them ;-)
The use of the prefix "mal-" in Esperanto is (IMO) a
very unfortunate one. True, it doesn't mean "bad" in
Esperanto, only "opposite", but very many people will
instinctively understand that "granda" is considered
as the reference and "malgranda" as a defect, and that
"dekstra" is the reference and "maldekstra" a defect
(something like "not the normal way"). What is
interesting is to analyze, in such opposite pairs,
which ones Zamenhof took as "referents" and which ones
as "not normal". "Dead" is "malviva", "stupid" is
"malsprita", "perverse" is "malvirta", "restless" is
"maltrankvila", "poor" is "malricxa", those (and many
more) having clearly a negative connotation. But,
strangely, "bold" (daring) is "maltimema" (= not
fearing), "light" (in weight) is "malpeza" (not
heavy), "hard" is "malmola" (not soft)... There seems
to be a occasional conflict between this prefix "mal-"
and usual connotations in human mind. One cannot help
to instinctively think that "mal-" means "bad", even
if it is not what Z. wanted.
(As to "malmola", an explanation could be found in
this deep remark from the French humorist Alphonse
Allais : "the elasticity of rubber makes it improper
to many uses").
"High thoughts must have high language." (Aristophanes, Frogs)
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