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Re: The Naturalist Manifesto revisited

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Saturday, March 13, 2004, 5:48
Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:

> In a similar vein, a language designed for a non-human race may > violate well-established universals of human languages. One of the > best non-human conlangs I have seen is Jeffrey Henning's Fith, which > has a grammar based on a LIFO stack, which is unlike any human > languages - the Fithian brain processes language in a different way > than the human brain does. The system of colour terms of Herman > Miller's Tirelat is unlike the colour term system of any human > language: the speakers of Tirelat see colours differently. > Both a stack-based grammar and a colour term system like that of > Tirelat would be a big goof in a language meant to be spoken by, say, > an ethnic minority of the British Isles. In a language of alien > beings, both are fine!
The Tirelat color system also illustrates what happens when the design goals of a language change. The first incarnation of Tirelat was a human language, with colors organized into four categories of red, green, yellow, and blue: The current version of Tirelat is spoken by non-humans, so I had to change the color system to fit their color vision, as I'm beginning to understand it. Since the Sangari can't see red light (orange might be barely visible, but would appear as a dark yellow), the words for colors in the red part of the spectrum are no longer part of the basic color list (biri "red", vezi "orange", rezhi "magenta", and lhevi "pale orange-red" (i.e., the skin color of humans of European descent)). "Marvi" as a word for "brown" might be worth keeping, in reference to dark shades of yellow and the colors in the orange part of the spectrum that appear as dark yellow, and "záfi" (originally meaning "pink") has been recycled. Some of the remaining colors have remained more or less the same, a few have been changed to represent the extra colors with ultraviolet added, and a couple of new words fill in the gaps. In summary: Old Tirelat híri = New Tirelat xiri = yellow. OT zími = NT ziimi = green. OT kílhi = NT kilhi = turquoise. OT nuri = NT nuri = blue. OT gúri = NT guuri = indigo. NT xeni = a combination of yellow and indigo. NT veli = white without ultraviolet. OT cevi (tan) = NT tsevi (yellow plus ultraviolet). OT hezhi (yellow-green) = NT ghezhi (green plus ultraviolet). NT myri = turquoise plus ultraviolet. OT zari (sky blue) = NT zaari (blue plus ultraviolet). OT zhuli (violet) = NT zhuli (indigo plus ultraviolet). OT záfi (pink) = NT zafi (yellow, indigo, and ultraviolet). OT fali = NT fali = white with ultraviolet.