Words for colors--Can Russians see the color blue?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Magical Realist, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Yes inventing and naming zero is one of mankind´s greatest advances, IMHO. Try to calculate some relatively simple solution to a math problem, using a numerical system like Roman Numerials that lacks a named number for "nothing" - has no zero.
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  3. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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  5. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Outstanding analysis. Perception is indeed a very complex process once we get into it.
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  7. leopold Valued Senior Member

    i'm sure there are many colors but let's not confuse red and pink for example.
    pink is just unsaturated red
    there is also additive and subtractive methods of color mixing, both using its own primary colors.
    television uses red, green and blue and i believe (if memory serves) that the equation for white is 0.59R+0.11B+0.31G.
    also white is defined as a certain temperature of platinum.

    the equation for white is 0.30R+0.11B+0.59G
  8. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    I caught this thread on the first page and thought racism should be against sciforum rules.

    Then I noticed it is in linguistics, and that made it seem somehow better as it was a challenge against the language and not the actual abilities.

    I see 3 types of Russian blues in their language. Nobody even noted that in the first page but Electricfetus did on page 2.

    Russians have many words for blue.
    What is this thread about?
  9. leopold Valued Senior Member

    my first thought was it should be moved to philosophy.
    are you implying russians have actual abilities?
    (oh man, that was too easy.)
    that's what happens when you have fried fetus for lunch, something to do with omega 3.
    if you can't make it good then make it blue.
    russians, blue, language, philosophy, and of course the kitchen sink.
  10. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    This part of MR's topic was addressed early on: "I've heard that there is no word for 'blue' in the Russian language. [...] Is this true?" Example, source of *New Scientist* this time:

    Russian speakers get the blues: "The language you speak can affect how you see the world, a new study of colour perception indicates. Native speakers of Russian -- which lacks a single word for 'blue' -- discriminated between light and dark blues differently from their English-speaking counterparts, researchers found..."

    Whereas this part of his original post, along with related branched-off fare, apparently persisted as the core discussion topic: "And what does this imply about the role of language in sensory perception? If you have no name for a color can you still see it?"
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Good reminder of how over the decades most people exposed to even the older classic, for the first time, had to be told about beforehand that there were two different conceptions of the pattern, in order to discern the other one being there at all. Then there was Witt's rabbit / duck, but that was just the dual-conceptual flickering alone rather than a "hidden gimmick".
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Things that get lost or added in translation ...
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    If you one keeps repeating these statements to oneself, one will eventually probably believe them, and then actually see the world according to them - which will in turn make one think that one is correct.

    The limits of my neurolinguistic stance are the limits of my world.

    I believe that cats are rational beings, you don't. The practical consequence of our beliefs and how we act on them is that my cats don't pee on the rug, while yours do.
  14. leopold Valued Senior Member


    regardless of what the research says, language can not change what you see.
    you can of course call it anything you like but the fact remains that each sample reflects a certain distinct wavelength to the eye.
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    You've taken too many philosophy courses. It's time for Science 101A.

    How do you know what I believe? We've never discussed this.

    Every animal with a brain acts partially from reason, partially from habit, partially from instinct, and partially from non-cerebral causes such as reflex. We can even get into Maslowe's Hierarchy if you want: some are motivated primarily by survival, others by self-actualization--or at least the quest to understand what that means.

    Humans have uniquely enormous forebrains, so we have a well-developed ability to override instinct with reasoning and learning. Cats have a much smaller forebrain, so their instincts guide more of their behavior. Some mammals and birds have impressive forebrains (while still qualitatively smaller than ours) and have considerable conscious control over their activities, while others do not. Reptiles have even smaller forebrains, amphibians still smaller, and many fish have little more than an overgrown olfactory lobe serving as their center of reasoning. (The vertebrate forebrain started out as a center for identifying odors and pheromones and deciding whether to move toward them for food or away from them for safety.)

    Once again, where the hell do you get off making these preposterous claims about the way I live based upon zero information? It's like me asserting that you drink half a bottle of tequila every morning because it's the only way you can stand to deal with your boss. (If I were your boss I'd need a whole bottle myself.)

    I generally don't give people formal discipline for insulting me in my own subforum because I believe moderators are supposed to have thick skins: it's one of the things that makes it possible to do this job. But don't assume that other moderators feel this way!

    But you did insult me. My wife and I have had more than fifty companion animals of a dozen species over our 35-year life together and they have all been well civilized. Well most of them.

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    Cats have an exceptional appreciation for cleanliness and do not like to soil the places where they sleep and eat. It's not difficult to teach them that the entire indoor space is theirs so it's better to pee outside. Cats pee indoors because their humans have not bothered to teach them that, or because their humans don't let them out as often as they need to go, or because their humans are dickheads who they feel deserve to be punished.

    I had one cat who peed indoors because he had an intractable cystitis problem. I spent a fortune on veterinary bills but to no avail. Let this be a sober warning to all the kind-hearted people who rescue unwanted pets: sometimes there's a reason they were unwanted. I didn't discover until after the fact that the lady I got this cat from worked in a veterinary clinic and was snatching the cats who were scheduled for euthanasia, without finding out why.

    It was a difficult decision that she foisted on me because she was too weak to make it herself: Let the cat live outdoors, which was legal then but soon won't be, as they kill one billion birds every year, or take him on a second trip to death row.

    Belief has nothing to do with it. You've become famous for your preposterous off-the-cuff remarks, and this one was a classic.

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  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Translation: "It's time to subjugate yourself to scientism."

    IOW, you've managed to brush aside the whole issue that the OP puts forward.

    If anything, you should take a course in linguistics! :gasp:
    Linguists have all those fancy theories - and so many of them - about how language works.

    Of course we have.
  17. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    It has to do with the cognitive aspect of "seeing" itself, not necessarily "changing" what may not have been detected to begin with. I once walked by a copperhead without noticing it, that was within my field of vision (especially since I was looking downward). A friend yelled "snake!", whereupon, being given or reminded of the general concept or classification for the creature, I then finally discerned its shape / slightly differing pigments in the similar, obscuring color of the leaves.

    "Seeing" isn't mere reception of environmental energies. If that was the case, then rocks would be conscious of an undifferentiated blob of brightness, just by absorbing light. Or better put, wholesale panpsychism would the case if cognition was just surface contact or stimulation of tissue rather than an existing, deeper organization within for assembling, discriminating, giving attention to, recognizing patterns, and "understanding" what was received (the brain being considered something more than just skull filler, as one occasionally gets the opposite impression of from listening to advocates of direct or passive perception). IOW, a system is involved which does possess inherent "schemes" for processing sensory input that are a kind of "tacit knowledge", but the system also acquires new ones socially, as well as inventing its own conceptions over time, that contribute to apprehension and comprehension of its experiences. Everyday appearances-wise, language is the medium for the latter activities, even if reducible to a substrate of electrochemical operations (the latter not even fathomed or explored until the recent era).

    Much of science is explicit knowledge represented by formal description -- what various theories, models, and understandings may describe or reference are not always neat, empirical objects like "that house" which can be sighted and pointed-to. There are kids who could assimilate an initial grasp of biological evolution by reading a book about it, because even otherwise, the scattered evidence, research, and the reflective thought which integrated and formulated the idea are not something to be witnessed by walking over a hilltop and sighting it as a tangible, exalted Black Monolith or whatever, where immediately afterwards one says: "Ah ha, I grasp what evolution is by seeing it as concrete thing here!" That is, we often absorb concepts that were initially detailed by language or even another symbolic system before they are turned into their counterparts as modifications of neural structure in the brain. And when those are recalled to consciousness, for conversation with someone else or private thought, they are converted back to language or whatever manner of description.

    A caveman walking into a laboratory would see a garbled, generalized mess of unfamiliar and uninteresting equipment which he would not much bother to take notice of in specific detail unless an instructor pointed to a particular item, and later, referred to it with the learned term alone. Later still, the caveman would not merely discern the "thing" from the background and identify it, but have knowledge of what it did, its history of development, etc. How the item is "seen / cognized" matures.
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    This is a place of science. We're all here because we want to discuss science and learn more about it. If you have some wacky objection to the scientific method (and on this website any objection to the scientific method automatically qualifies as "wacky" and is likely to get you relegated to the boards devoted to crackpottery, pseudoscience and religion), then you need to be a little more verbose about it, rather than throwing around hostile terms from the 19th century.

    - Scientism: the belief that the assumptions, methods of research, etc., of the physical and biological sciences are equally appropriate and essential to all other disciplines, including the humanities and the social sciences.​

    "IOW" is an abbreviation for "in other words." You seem to think it means "in my words." I never said, "The limits of my neurolinguistic stance are the limits of my world." I am a musician (vocals and bass guitar) so anyone who knows me would wonder who you're talking about, since it can't possibly be me. I may have diverged from the OP because this thread has wandered off in some interesting directions, but I have no hostility toward the issue it raised, and in fact I have responded to it more than once, generally from the perspective of a linguist.

    There's a good reason linguistics is classified with the "soft sciences" such as economics and psychology. The complete toolset of the scientific method cannot be used in linguistic research, any more than it can in economics or psychology. Experimentation, for example, is almost impossible to perform in any meaningful scope.

    Some of their theories (which I stridently recommend calling "hypotheses" until they've been proven true beyond a reasonable doubt like evolution and plate tectonics) are promising, and even if they turn out to be wrong they've given us some good ideas and suggested some new directions for research. Yet most of the questions about language and linguistics that non-linguists find most compelling do not yet have good answers. For example, we still don't know whether language is one of the technologies that was invented only once and quickly spread before anybody else thought of it (like the domestication of the cat and the symbol for zero), or whether it was invented in multiple places and eras (like pottery and writing). The answer to this question is key to one of the most intriguing issues in the entire field of study:

    - There are so many commonalities among languages, is this because they're all descended from one original language that happened to have those attributes, or is this because the human brain is wired that way so every language we invent is going to have those attributes?​

    That's never come up before. My previous remark, "Every animal with a brain acts partially from reason, partially from habit, partially from instinct, and partially from non-cerebral causes such as reflex," may be the first time I've ever offered an opinion on this issue on this entire website.
  19. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

  20. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Words for colors, especially English?

    Due to the paint & cosmetics industries, English (& likely other languages) have hundreds or thousands of color words. Artists have a large number of color words.

    I would like a discussion omitting the above & also omitting phrases like ruby red, navy blue, dark green, et cetera.

    I am interested in the vocabulary of a typical speaker of English & other languages.

    English has quite a few words relating to red hues: Red, maroon, crimson, vermillion, pink. Do other languages have a similar number of words for red hues?

    Aside from red hues, English seems to have quite a few commonly used color words: Green, blue, purple, violet, yellow, brown, tan, black, white, gray.

    I have been told that Russian has two words for hues which English speakers would call blue. Is this true? Are there similar examples in other languages?

    Does English have a larger color vocabulary than other languages?

    BTW: It is interesting to note that there are no hues which would be described as reddish green yellowish blue. This must be due to some charactieristic of human color perception.
  21. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    BTW: It is interesting to note that there are no hues which would be described as reddish green yellowish blue. This must be due to some characteristic of human color perception.

    Reddish Green we call Brown in Canada. Yellowish Blue we might call Green.

    Colours are often associated with poetry, and literature has probably given license for many to interchange colour with an object with a known colour. If I said a wall was Lavender then you would likely know I meant purple. In fact; you would know the precise shade of purple I was mentioning.

    I would think this license would be equally valid in any language.

    It is also likely that the Roots of the words were derived from words associated with colour such as "Orange".

    I grew up in a printing environment, and learned colours based on PMS numbers, and could mix by eye.

    I am sure there are lists out there of colours.

    NOTE: I am not editing out phrases included here.

  22. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Humans have only 3 color receptors and a 4th for perceiving light intensity (that see spectrally as yellow). So we see in red, green and blue and all hues between and lighter or darker versions of.
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member


    I have merged this thread with an existing thread on the same subject.

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