Re: [tied] Yellow as an PIE word

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 18029
Date: 2003-01-24

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From: <x99lynx@...>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, January 24, 2003 7:28 AM
Subject: [tied] Yellow as an PIE word

> Let me suggest there was no word for "yellow" in these early languages. ...

> ... reconstructing a PIE word for yellow or green or red might not only be creating a fiction, it might also be missing the true semantic identities of and connection between the concrete objects that those modern abstract words came from. To the extent that the reconstruction of phonological development is based on such inaccurate meanings or anachronistic concepts, they may also be off.

The point is well taken, and it's often made by linguists. Reconstructing PIE basic colour terms is a tricky business and we definitely should avoid projecting our modern concepts back onto reconstructed languages. It might be said, at best, that the semantics of *g^Hel- was such that the root was frequently employed for naming green, yellow or orange stuffs and objects (the yolk of an egg, bile, gold, various plants, etc.) in historically known languages. It's a far shot from establishing its PIE meaning as 'greenish-yellow' or the like. "Red" might a special case, since reflexes of *h1reudH- and its derivatives mean _precisely_ 'red' with great consistency and enjoy the status of basic colour terms in many known languages. But "red" ranks highest on anyone's list of chromatic colour terms.