Thursday, August 4, 2011

Color Naming Universals: The Case of Berinmo.

Paul Kay and Terri Regier. 2007. Cognition 102: 289-298.

The authors set out the universalist-relativist debate concisely in two questions:

"1. Do the languages of the world lexically carve up the color space largely arbitrarily?
2. Where color-naming difference among languages occur,do they correlate with corresponding difference in memory, learning, and discrimination of colors?" (290)

The article argues against Davidoff et al. 1999; Roberson et al., 2000; and Roberson et al., 2005 that the evidence gathered for the Berinmo (also called Berinomo) language (Sepik-Ramu family, Papua New Guinea) disproves the notion of universal, 'focal' colors. The only universal constraint these authors accept on color naming is grouping by similarity: "Thus, no language would exhibit categories that include two ares of color space but excludes [sic] an area between them" (Roberson et al. 2000)

Kay and Regier go on to show that the boundaries of color categories identified on the Munsell chart for Berinmo are similar to those of other 5-term languages in the World Color Survey, and also similar to those of other languages that come from different language families of the world.

Friday, July 29, 2011


L'economie des moyens picturaux contre l'emploi de materiaux onereux dans la peinture ancienne. Charikleia Brécoulaki. In Coulours et matrie\res dans l'antiquité. Textes, Techniques et pratiques. Agnes Rouveret, Sandrine Dubel et Valerie Naas, eds. 2006, 29-42.

Roman writers such as Pliny, Cicero, and Quintillian are not reliable source of the theory and method of ancient painting because they were not themselves experts in the field, and even if they had read ancient treatises on the subject, they were likely to have misunderstood some of the technical aspects of them; besides, they were as far distant from the painters of ancient Greece as we are from Fra Angelico or Pietro della Franchesca.

Pliny's colores floridi are names of pigments crossing the warm/cool divide, including reds, purples, greens, and blues. None of the ones he names have been found at Pompeii except purpurissum; minium has been found elsewhere on Roman paintings. The floridi colores are unstable and incompatible with fresco painting.

Even granting the use of the pigments Pliny names, their appearance in artworks depends deeply on the pigments' preparation (eg fineness of grinding) and application. The term floridi is itself a translation of  Greek α'νθηρός which refers to dying clothes purple, with its attendant association of luxury.
Or, pour revenir aux termes latins, lorsque les adjectifs floridus et austerus sont employes en contexte pictural, ils suggerent egalement, d'une maniere assez generale, l'abondance et le luxe par opposition a la simplicite et a la sobriete ... [40]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Color Appearance and the Emergence and Evolution of Basic Color Lexicons

Paul Kay and Luisa Maffi. American Anthropologist 101:4 1999. 743-60.

Introduces a new model motivating the regularities of color naming and color evolution observed in the World Color Survey. The model assumes that the Hering primaries (white, black, red, yellow, green, blue) are basic and universal "hue sensations", and adds 4 principles:

1. The partition principle, which they formalize thus: "Partition: In notional domains of universal or quasi-universal cultural salience (kin relations, living things, colors, etc.), languages tend to assign significata to lexical items in such a way as to partition the denotata of the domain. [745] (NB: Oniga's (2009) proposal of consistent bright/dark twins in Latin's BCTs could be interpreted as partition operating over a visual domain different from hue; also suggests a symmetry principle that tends to operate in phonological space.)

2. Distinguish Black and White. Objects are can be distinguished without hue; B & W are probably the most basic visual sensations. [747]

3. Distinguish the warm primaries (red and yellow) from the cool primaries (green and blue). [747] They cite studies supporting the universality of this broad distinction.

4. Distinguish red. [749] They cite evidence for the universal primacy of the red sensation over the others.

They propose that the operation of these principles (linguistic? psychological? cultural? perceptual?) accounts for the evolution of BCTs according to the patterns noted in the WCS.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Biocultural Implications of Systems of Color Naming

by Paul Kay, Brent Berlin, and William Merrifield. 1991. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology Volume 1, Issue 1, pp. 12-25.

Addresses the nature of "composite categories" of color and notes that of all the possible combinations of the Hering primaries, only a few composite categories are found (e.g. purple = red + blue, but no yellow + blue or red + green). Composite colors are like orange (red + yellow), brown (yellow + black); they perceived to be composites of these at least, whatever their true nature.

"Categories that are gradient and overlapping, as color categories often are, permit a possibility for the formation of new categories which nongradient, mutually exclusive categories do not." [21] [the point is that color categories frequently overlap]

Claims that Latin viridis is a green-blue category (without citing any evidence whatsoever!), p. 23; also that Gk. chlo^ros (which he misspells) is a yellow-green word.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The World Color Survey

2009. By Paul Kay, Brent Berlin, Luisa Maffi, William Merrifield, and Richard Cook. CSLI Publications, Stanford, California.

Contains a brief history of the development of the B-K hypothesis since 1969, including substantial modifications of the theory in response to criticisms and further data. There follows a summary of the massive dataset of the WCS and a general conclusion, along with discussion of so-called "Emergent Hypothesis" languages that do not encode hue. (Ancient Greek is claimed to be such a language by Lyons.)

Some highlight quotations:

[2] "BK operated on a tacit assumption, which was retained in the UE models throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, that every language has a basic color term system, in the sense that every language has a small set of words, or word senses, of pure color meaning whose significata partition the subjective color space. Let us call this the assumption [3] of Partition. (Recent UE abandonment of Partition as exceptionless is discussed briefly below and in greater detail in Section 5. Exceptions to Partition are real but discussion of them can profitably be deferred for the moment.) According to Partition, a language with only two terms, shown as 'black' and 'white' in diagram (1), 'extends' these two terms so that jointly their significata cover all visible colors. BK denoted such extended colors in capital letters, BLACK and WHITE, stating that BLACK comprises 'black plus most dark hues' and WHITE comprises 'white plus most light hues' (BK: 17). The first major amendment to the UE model was taking note, based mainly on the work of E. Rosch (Heider 1972a, 1972b, Heider and Olivier 1972), that two-term systems in fact contain one term for black, green, and blue and other so-called cool colors and one term for white, red, yellow and other 'warm' colors (Berlin and Berlin 1975, Kay 1975)."

[7] "As noted, contrary to the BK model shown in (1), derived (intersective) categories can occur before all the composites have been resolved into their constituent primaries. MacLaury (1986) suggested that the composite-to-primary evolutionary path and the less regular evolutionary path of the derived categories be considered independent, [8] albeit largely non-overlapping, sequences rather than successive portions of a single sequence. This suggestion is adopted in Kay, Berlin, Maffi and Merrifield (1997, hereafter KBMM), who consequently drop stages VI and vn and restrict the typology of basic color term systems to what they term 'basic stages', namely those five evolutionary stages which represent successive partitions of the original two maximal composites, W /R/Y and Bk/G/Bu12, ending with separate basic color terms for each of the six primaries. There are thus five basic stages, representing two-, three-, four-, five- and six-term systems. Two stages, m (four-term systems) and IV (five-term systems) admit of more than one type of basic color lexicon. KBMM noted that languages were quite often better classified as intermediate between two types than as belonging to a single type. Also, color term systems can sometimes best be described as recently entering a certain stage or as about to enter transition into another stage. The actual typology for basic stages and the resulting evolutionary model of KBMM need not be discussed in further detail here, because the more recent typology of Kay and Maffi (1999), described below, is nearly identical and is the one employed as a descriptive framework in this work."

[8] "Kay and Maffi (1999) present a slightly revised version of the UE model of KBMM
which, however, emphasizes the degree to which universal aspects of the evolution
of basic color term systems can be motivated by presumably language-independent
facts regarding color appearance.13 The UE hypotheses of universality and evolution
are expressed there as follows:
I There exists a small set of perceptual landmarks (that we can now identify with the Hering primary colors: black, white, red, yellow, green, blue) which individually or in combination form the basis of the denotation of most of the major
color terms of most of the languages of world.
II Languages are frequently observed to gain basic color terms in a partially fixed order. Languages are infrequently or never observed to loose [sic] basic color terms."

[9] "• First, what proportion of the world's languages are non-partition languages, that is, fail to have lexical sets of simple, salient words whose significata do partition the perceptual color space?
• Secondly, in the case of partition languages, to what extent and in what manner do they conform to generalizations I and II above?
• Thirdly, in the case of non-partition languages, to what extent and in what manner do they correspond to generalizations I and II?
Regarding the first question, it appears that in the ethnographic present non-partition languages are rare. The data from most languages studied in the WCS give no indication of non-partition status. (The exceptions are discussed in Section 5.) Also, most reports on color term systems in the literature a11d in personal communications received by the authors give no suggestion that the language being reported fails to provide a simple lexical partition of the color space. The EH enthusiast might reply that such reports merely betray an unreflecting assumption, based on the report~r' s own language, that every language partitions the color space with a simple lexical set. Such a conjecture is neither provable nor disprovable. In m1y case, the apparent paucity of non-partition languages in the ethnographic present may not be representative of human history. Specifically, just as there are no Stage I (two-term) languages in the WCS sample and very few reported in the literature17 , the relative lack of non-partition languages in the ethnographic present may reflect to an unknown degree the (putative) facts that (1) some extant partition languages were non-partition languages in the past and (2) some extinct non-partition lm1guages may have left no non-partitioning descendants, or no descendants at all. Again, it is not obvious how empirical evidence may be brought to bear on such conjectures. Philological reconstructions of data on extinct languages (e.g., Lyons 1995, 1997 on Ancient Greek) and some exegetical reanalyses of reports that were originally aimed at different goals (e.g., Lyons 1997 on Hm1un6o, Lucy 1996, 1997 on Hantm6o a11d Zuni, Wierzbicka, 1996: 306-308 on Hm1un6o) were suggestive of the EH, if not probative. The field study of Levinson (2000) was aimed directly at EH issues, and that study, together with some of the WCS data to be discussed in Section 5, lend substantial support to that hypothesis. (For further discussion, see Kay 1999b [10] The second question - "How do color-space-partitioning languages satisfy I and IT?" -is addressed by the individual analyses of the 106 partitioning languages (out of 110 total WCS languages) that constitute the bulk of Section 5 of this book."

[10] Evolution of color systems acc. to the revised BK hypothesis:


[13] "In the WCS procedure, no preliminary interview was administered to establish a set of basic color terms, and in the naming task the 330 individual color stimuli were shown to each cooperating speaker, one by one, according to a fixed random order, and a name [14] elicited for each. Field workers were instructed to urge subjects to respond with short names (although, depending on particular field circumstances and particularities of the language itself or the local culture, there was considerable variation in the degree to which the field investigators were able to satisfy these desiderata). Identification of the basic color terms for the purpose of eliciting the best examples was therefore decided by the fieldworker after - rather than before - the naming task, using criteria specified in the inshuctions (See Appendix 1). The nature of these criteria required a certain amount of judgment from the fieldworker. In later analysis, we substituted our own judgments of basicness for those of the fieldworkers, taking account both of the fieldworkers' original judgments and of certain statistical summary information regarding the responses of the speakers, which was not available to the workers in the field and is discussed below. The WCS mapping task only required informants to map focal points -best example choices -not boundaries. The boundaries of categories emerging from the naming task were not available to the fieldworkers because the naming data took the form of responses to a random order of individual chip presentations, with no key between this order and the stimulus palette. The ranges of the various named categories in each language were only established at a later, post-field, stage, when responses to the chips named in the random presentation order could be assigned to locations on the stimulus palette.
The best example (focus) responses were elicited in the same way in both studies. Once a set of basic color terms was isolated, the collaborating speaker was presented with the full stimulus palette (in WCS, an improved version, devised by Collier et al. (1976), of the original Munsell chip board) and asked, for each term, to indicate the chip or chips that represented the best example(s) of that term. Unlike the BK data, WCS focal responses were highly variable and in the case of some languages unreliable on their face. For example, best example choices that fall outside the range of naming responses of the term they are supposed to typify are impossible to interpret. Not infrequently terms were provided with focal choices that did not appear in the naming data, and some terms that had high consensus naming mysteriously did not appear in the focus data. Possibly these cases represent refusals of the collaborating speakers to make the requested judgment, but they might also represent oversights on the part of the fieldworker, or other causes. Focal choices were unusable for a significant subset of native speakers. We cannot say with assurance why this occurred, but fatigue on the part of the speaker, the interviewer or both, following the naming of 330 individual chips should not be ruled out as a possible factor. Although poor quality of the focus data does not apply to every language, it does apply to enough languages and to a sufficient degree that focus data could not be used systematically in analysis of the individual languages. Aggregated over the WCS as a whole the focal choices show clear patterning (MacLaury 1997, Regier and Kay 2004, Regier, Kay and Cook 2005). For several languages, however, they are not usable for the purpose of analyzing the language. As a consequence, none of the individual language analyses of the next section rely on focal choice data."

Deciding whether or not a color term is basic and assigning a basic stage:

[21]"The 'basic stage' of a language is assigned according to the typology of Figure 1 of Section 1, after a decision is made regarding which terms of the language are basic color terms. Derived categories and heterogeneous or theoretically anomalous categories also appearing to be basic are identified as such. The judgment of whether a terms is basic or not takes into account, in addition to the field worker's decision, an intuitive weighting of four criteria (1) the percentage of speakers using the term, relative to those of other terms, (2) the range of chips named by the term on the modal array, relative to the ranges of other terms, (3) the level of agreement at which the term first appears on the naming aggregates: the higher the level the more established the term is inferred to be, again relative to the same criterion assessed with respect to the other terms of the language, and (4) the relative clarity of definition of the term map. Because different languages display a wide range of variability in the degree of consensus they show overall, the 'strength' of a given term on any of these criteria can only be assessed relative to other terms in the same language. The complexity of this situation and the difficulty of specifying to objective criteria for many of the componenet judgments have prevented the elaboration of an algorithmic procedure to decide which terms are basic and which are not." [NB: these criteria are quite different from those of the original BK thesis, but note that "abstractness" is not one of them.]

[24] "The amount of information carried by the colors of objects may affect the salience of the color domain. In a technologically simple society, color is a more predictable property of things than in a technologically complex one. Except perhaps for a few pairs of closely related species of birds or of fish, it is rare that naturally occurring objects or the artifacts of technologically simple societies are distinguishable only by color. In technologically complex societies, on the other hand, artifacts are frequently to be told apart only by color. The limiting case is perhaps color-coding, as used in signal lights, electric wires and other color-based semiotic media. But almost every type of material thing a member of a technologically complex society encounters in daily life: clothing, books, cars, houses, ... presents the possibility that two tokens of this type will be distinguishable only, or most easily, by their colors. As the colors of artifacts become increasingly subject to deliberate manipulation, color becomes an increasingly important dimension for distinguishing things and hence for distinguishing them in discourse. As technology develops, the increased importance of color as a distinguishing property of objects appears to be an important factor in causing languages to add basic color terms, i.e., to refine the lexical partition of the color domain (Casson 1997)."

[27] "A distinction between 'warm' and 'cool' colors has long been recognized by color specialists from both the arts (e.g., art critics and historians and teachers of painting) and the sciences. Red, yellow and intermediate orange are 'warm'; green and blue are 'cool.' Hardin (1988: 129££) provides an excellent discussion of both experimental and philosophical considerations of the warm/ cool distinctions, beginning with Hume and concluding, in part, 'These explanations [of the warm I cool hue associations and cross-modal associations] are of varying degrees of persuasiveness, but they should at least caution us not to put too much weight on any single analogical formulation. However, they should not blind us to the striking fact that there is a remarkable clustering of oppositions which correlate with this hue division' (Hardin 1988: 129). Early experiments (e.g., Newhall 1941) established red as a warm hue. More recent experiments (Katra and Wooten 1995), controlled for brightness and saturation, have shown that English-speaking subjects' judgments of warm color peak in the orange region and cover reds and yellows, while judgments of cool color peak in the blue region and cover non-yellowish greens and blues. Judgments of warmth/ coolness also correlate with saturation (saturated colors are judged warm), but not significantly with lightness. These groupings of basic hue sensations into warm and cool agree with those common in the art world. A recent study of color term acquisition in two-yearolds, besides finding surprising control of color terms in very young children, found no significant differences among colors in the age at which they were acquired but did find that 'there was some evidence that our subjects maintained the warm-cool boundary; in general they make more within- than across-boundary errors' (Shatz et al. 1996: 197). Both artistic tradition and recent experimental evidence thus point to an affinity between red and yellow on the one hand and between green and blue on the other. A recent color model based on observed cone frequencies (De Valois and De Valois 1993, 1996) posits an intermediate stage of chromatic information processing that consists of two channels: one red/yellow and one green/blue (See Kay and Berlin 1997 for discussion of the possible relevance of this model to cross-language color naming). Psychological color space, so-called, is notoriously lacking in a reliable long-distance metric31
• We take the facts mentioned in this paragraph to indicate, albeit indirectly,
that red and yellow are experienced as in some respect similar and that green and blue are experienced as similar in that same respect."

[31] "A single trajectory, which we call the main line of color term evolution, accounts for the vast majority of WCS languages. Ninety-one of the 110 WCS languages (83%) belong either to one of the five stages of Trajectory A or to a transition between two of these stages, as shown in Figure 2, where a boxed numeral represents the number of WCS languages found at the corresponding type, and a circled numeral represents the number of WCS languages found in transition between the types indicated."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Karl-G. Prasse. "Berber Color Terms."

In Borg (ed.) 1999. The Language of Color in the Mediterranean. 166-174.

The nomadic Berbers have a set of abstract color verbs (language: Tuareg], and does not use color adjectives per se, but participles from the verbs [167-8]. [This seems similar to Pliny's use of rubeo, rubens. I wonder if it isn't some dialectal difference in P due to his Spanish background.]

Berbers don't clearly distinguish green and blue [172].

Robert MacLaury. "Basic Color Terms: Twenty-five Years After."

In Alexander Borg (ed.) 1999. The Language of Color in the Mediterranean, 1-37.

Gives an overview of the developments in anthropological/linguistic studies in color terms since B&K 1969, including modifications of the B-K hypothesis and its relation to various formalisms such as prototype theory, fuzzy set theory, and vantage theory. Much field research has shown that there are many nuances in color naming that include brightness, desaturation, and anomalous or overlapping color boundaries, that pose problems for naive B-K universalism. However, M's general assessment is that the B-K hypothesis was very important for moving research away from the naive relativism that prevailed before B&K 1969. Many scholars now believe that biology plays an important role in color naming systems, though much work is still to be done.

[31] "The last chapter of Basic Color Terms is yet to be written. The work has inpsired substantial research on categorization within an ubiquitous domain of language that can be explored replicably with a commercially available instrument capable of generating quantification. Berlin and Kay further did their part to develop theinstrument and encourage its use. in addition, they sparked intense interest in the question of relativity versus universality that persists to the present."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Emergence of Basic Color Lexicons Hypothesis: A Comment on ...

...'The Vocabulary of Color with Particular Reference to Ancient Greek and Classical Latin,' by John Lyons", by Paul Kay, in The Language of Color in the Mediterranean pp. 76-90.

Kay denies L's claim that the BK system includes only "second-order" predicates, and includes mainly adjectives and verbs for color words from many languages:

[76 note 1]Kay asserts that individual senses of words may qualify as BCTs

[80 n. 10] "For example, in Somali the (first order) words for black, white, and red are intransitive verbs, the words for yellow and green are denominal adjectives and the word for blue (buluug), also a first order basic color term, is a noun. To say that something is blue, one has to say that it 'has' blue (Maffi 1990b)."

[82-3] Kay also says that the monosemy of words like khlo^ros (ancient Greek) and latuy (Hanuno/o), including simultaneously meanings of color along with meanings of freshness, is not proven. [In fact, LSJ lists sand as a predicate of khlo^ros, indicating that it does in fact have an independent color sense. In addition, this kind of association of senses is present in Latin viridis, but Pliny has plenty of examples where the term is purely chromatic.]

Kay cites evidence that the perception of the Hering primaries as cognitive focal colors is not restricted to humans, but is also to the great apes and old world primates, quoting Sandell et al. 1979, "Color categories in macaques," Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology 93:626-635, pp. 628 and 634.

Finally, he argues that the thesis of L. that luminosity rather than hue was more important to Ancient Greek speakers is not necessarily incongruent with the BK thesis; it may be that this could be considered a pre-BK stage of color development.

Color in Ancient Greek and Latin

John Lyons. 1999. In Alexander Borg (ed.), The Language of Color in the Mediterranean. An Anthology on Linguistic and Ethnographic Aspects of Color Terms. Almquist & Wiksell International: Stockholm, 38-75.

[40] "The vocabulary of color was frequently used by structuralists, in the heyday of structural linguistics, to illustrate what was meant by the imposition of structure (or form) upon a conceptual or experiential continuum (cf. Hjelmslev 1953; Gleason 1961; Lyons 1963, 1968:56-58). The principal reason for choosing color for this purpose was that the notion of an a priori undifferentiated denotational continuum being differently structured in different languages is for this area of the vocabulary, unlike many others (such as the vocabulary of knowledge and understanding, or of tastes and smell), both readily interpretable and, at first sight at least, eminently plausible."

[48] "This distinction between reference and description is crucial in semantics.
Failure to draw it properly has led to a good deal of confusion in linguistics and in the philosophy of language. As far as the meaning of color terms is concerned, the difference between the two becomes clear as soon as one reflects upon the two interpretations of the ambiguous English utterance That's brown, which under one interpretation means 'That color is brown' and under another interpretation means 'That object (or substance) is brown.' The fact that this utterance is ambiguous in this way depends, in particular, on the syntactic ambivalence of color terms in English: it depends on the fact that they can be used both as nouns (more specifically, in this instance, as mass-nouns) and adjectives. French, like English, but unlike many of the world's languages, has a grammatical distinction between nouns and adjectives, and, within the category of nouns, between count-nouns
and mass-nouns; and most common, Ievel-l and level-2, French color terms are also syntactically ambivalent in respect of this distinction; but there are of course differences of grammatical structure between French and English, such that the ambiguities that they give rise to do not necessarily carry over from one language to the other (and conversely)."

[52] "Various revisions of the original BK-hypothesis have been made over the years, and (as is explained by Robert MacLaury in his contribution to this book) several facts about particular languages have been cited in the literature which would tend to invalidate a very rigid interpretation of the hypothesis. For example, in many languages a term for BK -grey developed earlier than was originally proposed; BK -brown is a problem in Russian, and, as was noted in the preceding section, also in French; and Russian has two basic words for blue, one of which appears to have developed before the term for purple. However, the general opinion among researchers seems to be that the BK -hypothesis is essentially correct, at least as far as the first six color terms in the hierarchy are concerned; and there may well be good neurophysiological and neuropsychological reasons for this."

[53] "To quote Conklin [1955]: "A shiny, wet, brown-colored section of newly-cut bamboo is malatuy (not marara >)" whereas "dried out or matured plant material such as certain kinds of yellowed bamboo or hardened kernels of mature or parched corn are marara>." "

[57] "I think we have to accept that it may be impossible to establish a definitive list of BK -basic color terms for Ancient Greek, Homeric or Classical, in the way that Berlin and Kay and their followers have done for a large number of modern languages. We certainly cannot follow the example of Odysseus and, going down to Hades, tempt with a bowl of blood a representative sample of native speakers to label particular areas of the standard Munsell color continuum with the most salient and the most appropriate everyday color terms! Nor can we rely on what even the most authoritative dictionaries or editorial commentaries on the crucial texts tell us is the meaning of particular terms."

[57] "Having made this point of methodological principle, let me now add a
few further points relevant to the BK-hypothesis and to my earlier assertion [58] that there are parallels between Hanun6o and Ancient Greek. As we have seen, both Gladstone and Platnauer came to the conclusion (as did Conklin for Hanun6o) that luminosity is more important than hue in the color vocabulary of Greek. In coming to this conclusion, neither Gladstone nor Platnauer drew essentially on the works of the philosophers. But there are many well-studied passages in works by Plato, Aristotle and others that strongly support the view that it was more natural to the Greeks than it is to us to think of the basic color terms (whatever they are and however many) as being arrangeable on a scale between melas and leukos at the end points."

[58] "Several commentators also accept that, despite what standard dictionaries
of Greek might say or imply, melas and leukos do not each have two meanings: the distinction between 'black' and 'dark,' on the one hand, and between 'white' and 'light' (or 'bright'), on the other, is an artefact of the process of translation into a language of different structure and is often a matter of arbitrary decision on the part of the translator."

[58] "...we are well on the way to resolving the problems, or pseudo-problems, that linguists and translators encounter, if they operate with the traditional, simplistic, notion that each word in a language has a fixed number of one or more separate (but related) literal meanings, each of which has fixed and sharply drawn, rather than somewhat fuzzy, boundaries."

[60] Lyons argues that the Grk. term khlo^ros is like the Hanuno/o term malatuy, in that its meaning of freshness, unripeness, moistness is never separate from its color signification, and thus an expression khlo^ros plant in Greek is never ambiguous in the way that English "green fruit" is (between green-colored and green-unripe). [NB: this is Bradley's argument about Lat. viridis, but in fact viridis is ambiguous in just the way "green" is, with many uses that are purely chromatic.]

[61] "...there is no empirical evidence to support the commonly held view that every word in the vocabulary of natural languages has a set of one or more determinate (and determinable) literal meanings (which are in contrast with its potential non-literal -- metaphorical, metonymic, or otherwise extended -- meanings); and, second, that there are also no convincing theoretical arguments to support this view."

[62] "We also must not forget one of the major [63] theoretical points that I have made above, first of all with respect to the French brun and then with respect to the Ancient Greek words that are used to refer to what we have assumed to be BK-green, especially khlo^ros: that there may be a considerable difference between the (first-order) descriptive use of a word (which is often collocationally restricted) and its (context-independent) use for (second order) reference to a particular color. As we have seen, khlo^ros can be used, in particular contexts, to describe things that are in fact not green, but yellow; but when it is being used for reference to color as such, the color in question is undoubtedly what in English we would describe as green." In other words, the color that someone might name in the BK/Munsell naming task, as well as its focal point and boundaries, might also be used contextually to communicate some things quite different. Lyons had earlier argued that French brun is collocationally restricted.

[65] "When we talk about Latin, however, we must remember that we are referring to a language that was used as a spoken and written language over many centuries, at different social levels and in many different contexts; and it was used for a thousand years thereafter in Western Europe, as the international language of science and scholarship. Any global statements about either the grammatical or the lexical structure of Latin have to be duly qualified therefore in relation to period and style."

[65] "Exactly how many basic, level-l, color terms there were in Classical Latin
it is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to determine. It can be argued, plausibly enough, that there were words for at least the first five, and possibly the first six, BK-basic colors: niger (BK-black), albus (BK-white), ruber (BK-red), viridis (BK-green), flavus (BK-yellow), caeruleus (possibly BKblue). It also seems to be clear that, in general, chromaticity (including principally hue) played a more important role in the color vocabulary of Latin than it did in that of Ancient Greek. In this respect, Latin was more similar to English, French, and many other modern languages, than it was to Ancient Greek."

[66] "There are alternative, apparently no less basic, words for black, white, red and yellow, and scholars have had great difficulty in deciding how these alternative words for what appears to be the same color differ from one another, if at all, semantically. In some instances, one word was contextually or stylistically more restricted than its alternate: for example, rufus (like the French roux) was most commonly used of hair (and horses) in Classical Latin, but it was used in a wider range of contexts in more popular Latin, as also in later Latin. 14 In other instances, most notably in the case of the alternative terms for black and white (ater and candidus), one word might be more expressive (in some sense) than another or might denote a color of greater luminosity, without being structurally less basic than it (i.e., without being one of its hyponyms)"

[66] "As to viridis, the word that I have given for green, this was much more
obviously a basic color term than the Greek khloros was. But, like khloros, it
was used prototypically, not only of color, but also of the freshness and
texture of growing vegetation."

[66 note 14] "14 Interestingly enough, it is rufus, rather than ruber, that is etymologically more directly related to what is assumed to be the Proto-Indo-European ancestor of the word for BKred in many modern languages belonging to different Indo-European sub-families. The Latin ruber is generally assumed (on phonological grounds) to have been borrowed from a neighboring Italic dialect in the pre-Classical (or indeed pre-Latin) "period.

[67] "There is no evidence that I know of to suggest that luteus is not a level-1 word."

[67] "Let us grant that Classical Latin was, in terms of the Berlin and Kay evolutionary
hypothesis at stage V, if not higher. Whether it was a higher-than stage-
Y language depends, of course, on whether it had BK-basic terms for
brown, purple, pink, orange or grey. I will not go into this question (which
is perhaps undecideable on the evidence available to us) in detail in the present
brief treatment of Latin color vocabulary. It may be suggested, however,
that Classical Latin had up to three further BK-basic color terms. It
this is so, it would be a stage-VII language.
Two of the words already discussed are possible candidates for BK -basic
status, as words for orange and grey, luteus and caesius, respectively. It will
be obvious from what has been said, above however, that, at least when they
are used attributively, on the one hand, the focal, or prototypical denotation
of luteus19 does not seem to be orange (though it may be) and, on the
other, caesius (like the Ancient Greek glaukos in contrast with phaios)
appears to have some degree of chromaticity.
A rather stronger case can be made for the thesis that BK -brown was
lexicalized in Classical Latin. The word fulvus is commonly translated with
the English word brown (or the French brun): like flavus, it is frequently
used to describe the color of hair, but clearly, in such contexts and more
generally, it denotes a darker color ('app[arently] ranging between a dull
yellow and a reddish-brown,' OLD). It also denotes a darker color than
luteus, and it does not seem to be a hyponym of ruber (or, of course, rufus)."

[68] "Although there are other words in Latin that could be, more or less
confidently, classified as level-1 color terms, none of them would seem to
denote either pink or purple. The Latin purpureus (which comes from porphureos,
one of the Ancient Greek words for red discussed above, and is the
source of English purple, French pourpre, etc.) did not denote BK-purple in
classical times (any more than the French pourpre does20
); and, though it
was in frequent use (especially in poetry and in certain collocations), is best
regarded as a level-2, non-basic, color term for the classical period. On the
other hand, it is a word with an especially interesting history in the Mediterranean
world, and I will use it to exemplify one of the points I wish to
make in the following section."

In the rest of the article, he makes the case that cultural and historical factors (such as technical development in dyes) have a profound effect on the color vocabulary. [But this is acknowledged by BK in their original book]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Blues of Aratus

Selina Stewart. 2006. In M.A. Harder, R. F. Reguit, and C. G. Wakker (eds.), Beyond the Canon, Peeters, Leuven, Belgium. pp. 319-344.

Discussion of Greek kuaneos and glaukos, arguing that these words are not polysemic in the sense that they do not have a color sense that is separable from other associated senses (eg "deep" or "threatening" for kuaneos). However, all her arguments rest on eliciting these supposed non-color senses of the words from the context -- that is by saying that the referents of the words are "deep" or "threatening." But if these meanings are present in the context, why do we need to suppose that they are a part of the meaning of the word? Most of her contextual translations of the color terms are just that -- translations of the context, and not the word.

Good bibliography of history of scholarship on Greek color terms.

Basic Color Terms. Their Universality and Evolution

Brent Berlin and Paul Kay. 1999 (1969). CSLI Publications: Leland Stanford University.

From the preface to the paperback edition:
"(1) there are substantive universal constraints on the shape of basic color lexicons -- systems of color naming do not vary randomly or carpiciously across langauges but are constrained to a small number of possible types; and (2) basic color lexicons change type over time by adding basic color terms in a highly constrained, though not mechanically predictable manner" [p. v] This is a substantial revision of B&K's original thesis, backing off the rather deterministic model of color-term evolution proposed in this volume.

"H.C.Conklin (1955) has shown ... that Hanuno/o 'color' words in fact encode a great deal of non-colorimetric information. The essentially methodological point made in such studies has been frequently misinterpreted by anthropologists and linguists as an argument against the existence of semantic universals." (as does Bradley). The article cited is "Hanuno/o color categories." Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 11:339-344.

This book surveys  98 different languages from different families.

Used 329 Munsell Color chips arranged on a board; asked participants to list basic colors, mark focal colors (best example of the color) and mark boundaries of the color. Boundaries were much more difficult for participants to mark, and results were not reliable. Foci were comparatively easy. [ p. 13]

"category boundaries proved to be so unreliable, even for an individual informant, that they have been accorded a relatively minor place in the analysis." [13]

Criteria for BCTs: [quoted from page 6]: ******

(i) It is monolexemic; that is, its meaning is not predictable from the meaning of its parts (cf. Conklin 1962)....

(ii) It signification is not included in that of any other color term....

(iii) Its application must not be restricted to a narrow class of objects....

(iv) It must be psychologically salient for informants. Indices of psychological salience include, among others, (1) a tendency to occur at the beginning of elicited lists of color terms, (2) stability of reference across informants and across occasions of use, and (3) occurrence in the ideolects of all informants ....

[subsidiary criteria:]

(v) The doubtful form should have the same distributional potential as the previously established basic terms. For example, in English, allowing the suffix -ish, for example, reddish, whitish, and greenish are English words, but *aguaish [sic] and *chartreus(e)ish are not.

(vi) Color terms that are also the name of an object characteristically having that color are suspect, for example, gold, silver, and ash. This subsidiary criterion would exclude orange, in English, if it were a doubtful case on the basic criteria (i-iv).

(vii) Recent foeign loan words may be suspect.

(viii) In cases where lexemic status is difficult to assess [see criterion (1)], morphological complexity is given some weight as a secondary criterion. The English term blue-green might be eliminated by this criterion.

**** end of quote ****

 Here is a chart of focal colors from twenty languages [ p. 9]. Note that foci for blue and green overlap closely as to hue (the horizontal scale) among languages (so also yellow, orange, brown). The vertical scale is brightness. Saturation is constant in this color set.

In Tzeltal, out of 40 informants, 31 located the center of the color yas in the green area, and nine in the blue area [10-11] -- this indicates that there is considerable variability among speakers of a language as to the focus of a particular color.

Bilingualism may affect color naming (Susan M. Ervin. 1961. "Semantic shift in bilingualism." American Journal of Psychology 74:233-241.)

Loss of color terms "appears rarely, if ever, to happen" [15]. But that does not mean that an acquired term may not be replaced by a synonym or loan word.

The size of the BCT lexicon seems to correlate with cultural complexity and technological development [16]

See below the mapping of color space for "primitive" languages that have only black, white, & red, or black, white, red, and green:

This may be relevant to the frequent black/white/red, black/white/green categories of plants in Pliny's NH; that is, he may be drawing upon a chronologically earlier, or synchronically more primitive "country" use of color terms. [Do you think the villicus knew the words luteus or caeruleus?]

In the Jalé language, blood is described with their word for "black" (it is a stage 1 language) [24]. Cf. Homer, imitated in Vergil, I think.

Bromley (1967) describes the color develoment of Highland New Guinea languages that use descriptive terms for colors that they don't have basic terms for: "Widely varying descriptive phrases are used for other specific color terms; recurring examples are 'fre leaf' for 'green' and 'cut orchid-fibres' for 'yellow' ...[Bromley 1967: 288, in Bromley M. 1967. "The linguistic relationships of Grand Valley Dani: A lexicostatisticalcClassification." Oceania. 37:286-308.] [B&K 24-25]. Thus we can see that the development of viridis perhaps follows a common pattern among languages.

Many languages lack a word for "brown" [27].

On Tzeltal green and blue: "Of the forty Tzeltal informants from whom we gathered experimental data, thirty-one indicated that the focal point of yas falls precisely in the area of the spectrum which corresponds to focal English green. In general usage the maximum extension of yas includes greens, blue-greens, blues and some blue-purples. however, when greater specification for yas is requested, many informants restrict the term almost exclusively to greens and some blue-greens. 'blues' and 'purple-blues' are recognized as a distinct area and are designated by a descriptive phrase ... [meaning] 'blackish green' or simply .... 'blackish'. In at least one instance, an informant referred to thie area by the Spanish term azul 'blue'. [32. this reminds me of Servius' description of caeruleus as 'green with black']

!Kung Bushmen of South Africa have a grue word [33]

Hungarian has a  doubling of red terms [35]

Russian has a doubling of blue terms [36] but they might involve hyponymy:

On the internal reconstruction of color vocabulary: [37-38]

"(1) Color terms that 'can be shown on linguistic grounds to be loan words are likely to be more recent additions than native color terms.
(2) Color terms that are analyzable are likely to be more recent additions than unanalyzable terms Analyzability may take five forms:
(i) color terms containing derivational affixes are more recent additions than color terms not containing
derivational affixes;
(ii) color terms containing more than one stem are more recent addltions than those containing a single stem;
(iii) color terms which contain analyzable stems and/or affixes are more recent addltions than those which
contain unanalyzable stems and/or affixes:
(iv) color terns containing an affix whose gloss is 'color, -colored, color of'. and so on, arc more recent additions than those not containing such an affix:
(v) color terms that are also the names (or contain the names) or objects cbaracteristically having the color in question are more recent additions than color terms which are not (or do not contain) such a name."[37-38]

On these grounds, one can say that luteus, caeruleus, purpureus are later additions because they not only derive from the names of things (2.v) but also show derivational morphology -eus (2.i.)

Western Apache green word describes turquoise [43]

"The history of many language families, including Indo-European, shows that borrowing a foreign form for a basic color category may serve either to encode a previously uncoded perceptual category or to replace a native form. for example, the French form bleu was probably borrowed from Germanic for a previously uncoded category, while blanc ~ blanche, also of Germanic origin, almost certainly replaced a Romance form." [44]

The appendix contains a good history of the problem of color terms from the 19th through the 20th century.

There is also a bibliography of color term literature from 1970-1990.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mark Bradley, Colour and Marble in Early Imperial Rome

2006. The Cambridge Classical Journal: Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society. Vol. 52, 1-22.

Marble made its debut in Rome from Greece; the first marble temple in Rome (Jupitor Stator) was built in 146 of Greek marble. In the 1st century BC white marble deposits at Luni (later known as Carrara marble) became popular, and Caesar, Augustus and the Julio-Claudians used this to decorate much of Rome.

Exotic, colored marbles from around the empire later became more popular and prestigious, and were valued not only for their appearance but for their cultural, social, and geographical associations. Pliny and Seneca were suspicious of the luxury and snobbery they embodied, as well as the false appearances they presented, e.g. in laminated wall applications.

Colored marbles were also used in sculpture for many effects, usually because their colors approximated the things / persons being represented, although their geographic and cultural origins were also meaningful for viewers (e.g. a sculpted lion made of yellow Numidian marble was appropriate not only because of its color but because Numidia had lots of lions [p. 12-13]).

Bradley also assumes that color terms used of marble are "material" in his accustomed way, translating purpureus as 'sea-purple', viride as 'verdant', flavus as 'blond' etc.

Much talk of cultural "discourses" throughout, though the term goes undefined.

PDF on file.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Aulus Gellius. Noctes Atticae 2.26

XXVI. Sermones M. Frontonis et Favorini philosophi de generibus colorum vocabulisque eorum Graecis et Latinis; atque inibi color "spadix" cuiusmodi sit. 1 Favorinus philosophus, cum ad M. Frontonem consularem pedibus aegrum visum iret, voluit me quoque ad eum secum ire. 2 Ac deinde, cum ibi aput Frontonem plerisque viris doctis praesentibus sermones de coloribus vocabulisque eorum agitarentur, quod multiplex colorum facies, appellationes autem incertae et exiguae forent,3 "plura" inquit "sunt" Favorinus "in sensibus oculorum quam in verbis vocibusque colorum discrimina. 4 Nam ut alias eorum inconcinnitates omittamus, simplices isti rufus et viridis colores singula quidem vocabula, multas autem species differentis habent. 5 Atque eam vocum inopiam in lingua magis Latina video, quam in Graeca. Quippe qui "rufus" color a rubore quidem appellatus est, sed cum aliter rubeat ignis, aliter sanguis, aliter ostrum, aliter crocum, aliter aurum, has singulas rufi varietates Latina oratio singulis propriisque vocabulis non demonstrat omniaque ista significat una "ruboris" appellatione, cum ex ipsis rebus vocabula colorum mutuatur et "igneum" aliquid dicit et "flammeum" et "sanguineum" et "croceum" et "ostrinum" et "aureum". 6 "Russus" enim color et "ruber" nihil a vocabulo "rufi" dinoscuntur neque proprietates eius omnes declarant, xanthos autem et erythros et pyrrhos et «irros et phoinix habere quasdam distantias coloris rufi videntur vel augentes eum vel remittentes vel mixta quadam specie temperantes."7 Tum Fronto ad Favorinum: "non infitias" inquit "imus, quin lingua Graeca, quam tu videre elegisse, prolixior fusiorque sit quam nostra; sed in his tamen coloribus, quibus modo dixisti, denominandis non proinde inopes sumus, ut tibi videmur. 8 Non enim haec sunt sola vocabula rufum colorem demonstrantia, quae tu modo dixisti, "russus" et "ruber", sed alia quoque habemus plura, quam quae dicta abs te Graeca sunt: "fulvus" enim et "flavus" et "rubidus" et "poeniceus" et "rutilus" et "luteus" et "spadix" appellationes sunt rufi coloris aut acuentes eum quasi incendentes aut cum colore viridi miscentes aut nigro infuscantes aut virenti sensim albo illuminantes. 9 Nam "poeniceus", quem tu Graece phoinika dixisti, et "rutilus" et "spadix" poenicei synonymos, qui factus e Graeco noster est, exuberantiam splendoremque significant ruboris, quales sunt fructus palmae arboris non admodum sole incocti, unde spadici et poeniceo nomen est:10 spadika enim Dorici vocant avulsum e palma termitem cum fructu. 11 "Fulvus" autem videtur de rufo atque viridi mixtus in aliis plus viridis, in aliis plus rufi liabere. Sic poeta verborum diligentissimus "fulvam aquilam" dicit et "iaspidem", "fulvos galeros" et "fulvum aurum" et "arenam fulvam" et "fulvum leonem", sic Q. Ennius in annalibus "aere fulvo" dixit. 12 "Flavus" contra videtur e viridi et rufo et albo concretus: sic "flaventes comae" et, quod mirari quosdam video, frondes olearum a Vergilio "flavae" dicuntur, sic multo ante Pacuvius aquam "flavam" dixit et "fulvum pulverem". 13 Cuius versus, quoniam sunt iucundissimi, libens commemini:
cedo tuum pedem mi, lymphis flavis fulvum ut
pulverem manibus isdem, quibus Vlixi saepe permulsi,
abluam lassitudinemque minuam manuum mollitudine. 14 "Rubidus" autem est rufus atrior et nigrore multo inustus, "luteus" contra rufus color est dilutior;15 inde ei nomen quoque esse factum videtur. 16 Non igitur," inquit "mi Favorine, species rufi coloris plures aput Graecos, quam aput nos nominantur. 17 Sed ne viridis quidem color pluribus a vobis vocabulis dicitur, 18 neque non potuit Vergilius colorem equi significare viridem volens caerulum magis dicere ecum quam "glaucum", sed maluit verbo uti notiore Graccho, quam inusitato Latino. 19 Nostris autem veteribus "caesia" dicta est, quae a Graecis glaukopis, ut Nigidius ait, "de colore caeli quasi caelia."" 20 Postquam haec Fronto dixit, tum Favorinus scientiam rerum uberem verborumque eius elegantiam exosculatus: "absque te" inquit "uno forsitan lingua profecto Graeca longe anteisset; sed tu, mi Fronto, quod in versu Homerico est, id facis: Kai ny ken e parelassas e ampheriston ethekas. 21 Sed cum omnia libens audivi, quae peritissime dixisti, tum maxime, quod varietatem flavi coloris enarrasti fecistique, ut intellegerem verba illa ex annali quarto decimo Ennii amoenissima, quae minime intellegebam: verrunt extemplo placidum mare: marmore flavo caeruleum spumat mare conferta rate pulsum; 22 non enim videbatur "caeruleum mare" cum "marmore flavo" convenire. 23 Sed cum sit, ita ut dixisti, flavus color e viridi et albo mixtus, pulcherrime prorsus spumas virentis maris "flavom marmor" appellavit."

Rough sight translation:Aulus Gellius, NA 2.26

Favorinus the philosopher, when he was walking to visit M. Fronto the consul, who was ailing, asked me to come along with him. And then, when a number of learned men at Fronto's house were talking about colors and the words for them -- because, as they said, the appearance of colors is many-faceted (multiplex), but the names for them are few and uncertain -- Favorinus said, "there are more distinctions in the perceptions of the eyes than there are in the words and expressions for colors. For (just to remove their improprieties [?]), the colors rufus and viridis have single names, but many different appearances. And here I see that well-known poverty of expressions in Latin when compared with Greek. For indeed that color "rufus" which is named from "rubor", but since fire (ignis) is red differently, and blood differently, and ostrum differently, and saffron differently, Latin speech does not show them with individual, specialized words, and signifies all those things by the one name "rubor", when it borrows the words for colors from the things themselves and says "igneus" and "flammeus" and "sangineus" and "croceus" and "ostrinus" and "aureus." Indeed, the color "russus" and "ruber" are not at all dinstinguished from the word "rufus", nor do they make clear how they are distinguished from it, but [the Greek words] xanthus and erythus and pyrrhus and irros and phoinix seem to have certain distinctions of color from rufus, either increasing or diminishing or compounding with a certain mixture."

Then Fronto said to Favorinus, "We do not deny, indeed, that the Greek language, which you seem to have studies, is wordier and more spread out than ours; but nevertheless, in these colors, which you just spoke about, we are not therefore lacking names, as we seem to you. For these are not the only words referring to a red [rufum] color, which you just now metioned -- russus and ruber -- but we also have more than those Greek ones you named: "fulvus" and "flavus" and "rubidus" and "poeniceus" and "rutilus" and "luteus" and "spadix" are names of the "rufus" color, either sharpening it, as if setting it afire (incendentes) or mixing it with the color green or darkening it with black or brightening it a bit with a greening (virenti -- glowing) white. For "poeniceus," which you said is "phoinika" in Greek, and "rutilus" and "spadix", synonyms with poeniceus (and our word is made from the Greek word), signify the exuberance and splendor of "rubor" such as are the fruits of the palm tree not wholly ripened by the sun, whence comes the words for spadix and poeniceus: for the Dorians call a "spadika" a bough taken from the palm along with its fruit. "Fulvus" however seems to be mixed from red and green, in some things with more green, in others with more red. Thus a poet very careful about words [i.e. Vergil] says "fulvam aquilam" and "iaspidem [jasper]", "fulvos galeros [fur cap]" "fulvum aurum" and "arenam fulvam" and "fulvum leonem," thus Quintus Ennis in his Annals said "aere fulvo". "Flavus," on the other hand, seems to be a mixture of viridis and rufus and albus: thus "flaventes comae" and, that which I see many wonder at, the branches of olives are said by Vergil to be "flavae", and thus much earlier Pacuvius called water "flava" and "fulvum pulverem". And since his verses are so pleasant, I'll quote them:

cedo tuum pedem mi, lymphis flavis fulvum ut
pulverem manibus isdem, quibus Ulixi saepe permulsi,
abulam lassitudinemque minuam manuum mollitudine.

"Rubidus" however is blacker [atrior] than rufus and burnt by much blackness [nigrore]; "luteus" on the other hand is a more dilute rufus-color, and its name seems to come from that [Gellius doesn't know that plant name from which luteus comes??]. Therefore," he said, "my good Favorinus, the Greeks do not name more species of red color [rufi coloris] than we do. But not even green color is expressed by us with many words, nor is Vergil not able to call the color of a horse green [viridem] wishing rather to say "caerulum ecum" rather than "glaucum", but he wished to use a word more known in Greek than an unusual one in Latin. And among our ancient writers, "caesia" is said, which is called "glaukopis" by the Greeks, ad Nigidius said, "de colore caeli quasi caelia.""

After Fronto said these things, then Favorinus kissed his rich knowledge of words and things, and also his elegance, and said, "from you alone perhaps the Greek language is far in advance [??] but you, my Fronto, do that which is in the verse of Homer, Kai ny ken e parelassas e ampheriston ethekas. But not only I have heard all these things with pleasure which you have said most expertly, but also, because you have explained the varietas of the flavi coloris, and you have made me understand those most pleasant words of Ennius, which I hardly used to understand: 'verrunt extemplo placidum mare: marmore flavo caeruleum spumat mare conferta rate pulsum'; for indeed 'caeruleum mare' didn's seem to comport with 'marmore flavo.' But since it is, as you say, that the flavus color is mixed of viridi and albo, he called greening spray of the sea [spumas virentis maris] the 'flavom marmor' most beautifully."

[Note that Gellius characterizes caeruleus as an unusual word in Latin -- thus not a BCT]

Renato Oniga. La Terminologia del Colore in Latino tra Relativismo e Universalismo

Aevum Antiquum 7 (2007): 269-284.

Summary: Latin's system of basic color terms (acc. to the definition of Berlin and Kay) offers a strong confirmation of BK's thesis that color terms are language universals and that languages evolve them in a stepwise fashion. Classical Latin is a stage IV language with basic terms for black, white, red, green, and yellow. Furthermore, Latin has doublets for the first three of these which distingush their sheen or intensity. Thus albus is dull white, candidus bright white; ater dull black and niger shiny black; and ruber dull red, rutilus bright red. The attention this system gives to sheen lines up with Lyons' thesis that early Mediterranean languages were more attuned to shine than to hue. Acc. to Oniga, caeruleus is a color in transition during the classical period which still has ties to caelum (from which it is derived), but is beginning to be a BCT.

The difficulties of interpretation of the Noctes Atticae 2.26, while real, do not refute the idea that universal BCTs are evidenced in Latin.

Gillian Carr. Woad, Tattooing and Identity in Later Iron Age and Early Roman Britain

2005. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 24 (3), 273-292.

(p. 273) "Summary. This paper explores the archaeological evidence for the practice
of facial and corporeal dyeing, painting and tattooing in the later Iron Age and
early Roman period. The aim is to construct a hypothesis which explains how,
why, when and by whom such pigments were worn. Although this hypothesis
discusses woad-derived indigo, this is used mainly, although not exclusively,
as an experimental tool, as no conclusive archaeological evidence exists which
reveals the identity of the ‘real’ pigment(s). Woad has also long held a place
in the popular imagination as the source of the dye which the ancient Britons
used to paint themselves.

"This paper explores the possibility that the cosmetic grinder was the
focal artefact used in body painting or tattooing, and was used for grinding
and mixing body and face paint. It is suggested that, rather than being a
‘Roman’-style tool for cosmetic application from the start, it may have begun
life as an artefact first used by the later Iron Age Britons for body painting and
expressing indigenous identities."

[end of summary]

(p. 276) Woad mixed with various media (beef drippings, egg white, egg yolk, water, saliva, semen) yields skin colors from grey, steel blue-grey, dark midnight blue, blue-black, dirty indigo-blue, indigo blue. [DW: these colors line up well with the semantic range of caeruleus]

(p. 278) "Other Classical authors referred to ‘woad-blue Britain’ (Ovid, Amores II, 16, 39), although the literal translation of Ovid’s viridesque Britannos is ‘green Britons’. This does not necessarily suggest a copper pigment, as woad dye can also often give a green colour (Plowright 1901–2). Pomponius Mela (de Chorographia III, 6, 51) also mentioned vitrum, calling it a dye."

(p. 279) "Pliny (Natural History XXII, ii) was the only author to suggest that a vegetable dye (glastum) was used by the Britons to stain the body (see Appendix). He remarked that this dye made the wearers resemble Ethiopians, which generated a minor debate over why the Romans imagined the Ethiopians were blue. However, woad can produce a black precipitate if left for too long, and can, therefore, turn skin black with over-exposure to the woad vat (Plowright 1901–2). Plowright also remarked that the woad gatherers’ hands were often black after harvesting the plant. It is likely, however, that Pliny, in discussing glastum, was merely describing a different dye-plant altogether."

(p. 288-9) List of ancient authors who mention body dying or tattooing:

Caesar, De Bello Gallico V, xiv
Ovid, Amores II, 16, 39
Propertius, Elegies II, xviiiD,1-4
Pomponius Mela, de Chorgraphia III, 6, 51
Martial, Epigrams XI, LIII
Tacitus, Agricola 29
Pliny, Naturalis Historia XXII, ii
Solinus, Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium 22, 12
Herodian III, xiv, 7
Claudian II, Poem on Stilicho’s Consulship II.247
Claudian II, De Bello Gothico, 416–18