Fw: [pbs] Color terms

Pacific Rim paige@hillkeep.ca
Sat, 18 Sep 2004 21:01:28 PDT
Jane McGary wrote:

> I wonder if a multilingual horticultural color term chart would be useful
> to many people?

I can't say that it would be useful to me across the board -- I read only a
few languages -- but it would be stimulating to see how many other languages
and cultures describe colors.

William Stearn, in his book, Botanical Latin, presents a lot of Latin color
terms with English equivalents -- useful in principle for all of us who
refer to the Latin names of plants, though it is not clear to me that
contemporary plant descriptions written in Latin are Stearnly latinate;even
dead languages evolve, it seems. Nonetheless perhaps the Stearn list of
plant colors could be used as a start.

Color and language, both, fascinate me.

Color: The primary colors from ground pigments differ from the primary
colors of light; Jane, as both a photographer and an editor of printed
documents, might wish to expand on this. Or not. I am jumping in to this
conversation with no hope of further participation for several days.

Language:  It appears from encounters I've had, and texts that I've read,
that blue and red are virtually one in Chinese. We divide the spectrum in
different ways.

Language: I frequently smile on noticing the variance, in English, of
certain color descriptions from the things they purport to refer to.

Flesh pink -- is not the pink of any human but a lurid, Band-aid,
Barbie-doll medium cadmium orange + white

Cerise (cherry) -- is more like printer's violet

Violet -- is mauve with perhaps a little black in it

Peach -- describes no earthly peach, but Flesh pink + white

Apricot ditto.

Pistachio -- is a softer, more greyed green than the bright yellow-green of
the nut

And so on.

In haste,

Paige Woodward
on top of Chilliwack Mountain
in southwest British Columbia
wet Zone 6

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