Re: [tied] The Word for Color/Yellow in Sanskrit?

From: x99lynx@...
Message: 18178
Date: 2003-01-27

"S.Kalyanaraman <kalyan97@...>" writes:
<<At what point in semantic evolution would the word have meant a system of
'classification' (e.g. ca_tur varn.a, four-fold classification of people by
their professions) -- or, say, of consonants or of shades of hue?>>

Well, it is hard to conceive that the term started as a classification for
occupations and then moved on to mean a lid, pigeon peas, a covering for an
elephant and a frog.

If <varn.a> did in fact simply mean a covering, skin or coating in its
original sense, then it would be natural for classes, professions,
occupations, tribal associations and castes to be recognized by their outward
appearances -- i.e., their occupational dress or uniform, some symbolic
aspect of their dress or their skin color. It is not unusual that certain
garments or cloths could only be worn by certain groups -- royal purple and
tartans come to mind. There are a thousand historical examples of this. Out
on the street, outward appearance would presumably be the first and foremost
way an observer would practically distinguish between categories of people.

As far as "shades of hue", these are nothing more than a sub-class of
external appearance (along with shape, texture, size, reflectivity,
brightness, variation, luminosity, transparency, the presence of
multiple-colors, dappling, changes in hue over time -- ie, vegetation over
the seasons -- covering, clothing, the identifiable differences that resulted
from different treatments, dyeings or stainings in the case of textiles,
skins and furs, and many other variables that often seem to show up in
ancient descriptions of objects and people).

The application of so-called "color words" to sounds is a curious thing --
the early Greeks did it too, with music -- but I can only venture that
perhaps what seems like a rather sophisticated idea to us moderns may have
first originated in the visual written notations that stood for sounds, e.g.,
the visual rendering of say an -o- sound, the way the sound "appeared" when

BTW, one of the words the Greeks would sometimes use to refer to what we
would call (hue) -- <chroia>, skin, surface, shell, appearance to the eye --
was also used to refer to the "superficiality" of outward appearances. So,
there is also some evidence that in ancient traditions there was a concept
that things like <varn.a> -- outward appearances -- could also be
surface-deep and therefore deceiving.

Steve Long