Re: [tied] colours

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 14870
Date: 2002-08-31

Since "red" is so well established, Berlin & Kay's hypothesis predicts the existence in PIE of at least two BCTs other than "red": one for "dark, black, grey, blue..." and the other for "light-coloured, white, pale...". There can be no doubt that PIE had words with such or similar meanings, the question is only which of them meet the definition of a BCT (and let's remember that the meaning of colour terms is rarely as stable as that of *h1reudH-). In my opinion, a good candidate for the "dark" BCT is *k^jeh1-wo- (Pokorny's root *k^ei-), and there are about half a dozen reconstructible terms with the approximate meaning "light, white".
----- Original Message -----
From: Davius Sanctex
Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2002 7:28 PM
Subject: Re: [tied] colours

>>are there PIE radicals for colours? <<

According to the work fo Berlin and Kay (1969) there is an universal
hierarchy in the appareance of basic colour terms represented in lexicon of
world languages:

white >              >  green
         >  red >    >  blue     > brown
black >              >  yellow

On the view of preceding diagram we have the following universals:

1) There are no language with fewer than two basic colour terms. In the case
of a language that has only two colour terms they must include focal 'white'
and focal 'black' respectively.
2)      If a language has a colour terms to designate focal 'green' and
'yellow' then it has a term for focal 'red'.
3)      If a language has a colour terms to designate focal 'red' then it
has terms for 'white' and 'black' (or 'light' and 'dark').

In p-IE we have in fact the term <*(h1)rwdH-> 'red' naturally this must
imply the existence of words for 'white' and 'black' in p-IE. A great number
of languages have been examined and satisfy this hierarchy. A curious
example is provided by Sango, an African language of Andamawa language,
there are only three basic colour terms: <vulu> 'white or light colour',
<vuko> 'black, violet, grease, dark blue, ...' and finally <bengmbwa> for
the rest of colors 'yellow, red, green, light brown, ...'

David Sánchez