What colour is green?

Many years ago when, during a menopausal hiccup, I took myself of to University to take a degree in Food Science and Anthropology, I attended a lecture on the evolution of colour in societies.  It was  subject mired in debate and contrary research findings and I am not up to date enough now to argue either side.  But what intrigued me was the concept (still debated) that the number of colours which had names was limited in less industrial societies.  That the concept of colour might be something that came with added sophistication.  I am sure there will be some out there who know more than I on this.

I mention it because it made me think more about language and how much our culture, and history would influence what words we had, and also how much the words that we have influence how we think. Caused me to wonder if people in different cultures view life through a different lens than us.  Coming from the tail end of Empire, all my growing had been influenced by our recent dominance of a great deal of the world.  Influenced by the dominance that the English language had gained across so much of the globe.

I am no linguist and so I have never really found answers to my idle curiosity, however, since coming into contact up here, in cyberspace, with so many different cultures and age groups, with peoples from many different backgrounds, historical and geographical, I have started noticing slight differences, even among all us English speaking folk.  I haven’t collected any data and have drawn no conclusions because I am also steeped in the correctness of research.  Eminent researchers in their field are engaged in their debates on this subject.  But, I have begun to take more notice of those I know down here in the real world.

I run a living history as well as a writing group and both groups share many of the same members.  We all appear to be, (we are all the same age group) similar.  Until one begins to explore childhoods and life histories. Then listening to chit-chat away from the groups, oddities in view points begin to make more sense.  It is not just the words but the meanings put with words.  Loaded with years and years of alternate shades of meaning.  Misunderstood by those from different histories.  Same words, same language but = confusion and misunderstandings.  Not different nationalities, not translations from different languages, just a different locale, social class, political loyalty, or history.

I am assuming this holds true across all English speakers, maybe across all cultures, and accept I may be very wrong with this assumption.

I know the differences may be slight, but assumptions about a writer, more than a speaker, are based on words, and the ordering and arrangement of those words.  Our interpretation of what those words mean to us, they may not mean the same for the writer. Are we reading those words differently? Do we know the other person?

Today in my A-Z challenge I have been discussing the greening of our planet. I began to wonder if we all view the colour in the same way. Do some of us see blue or purple instead, and just call it green because we have been told that is the name?   I think most of us have, at some time,  engaged in pointless argument with friends or family about whether a colour is blue or green – yellow or orange! being convinced the other must be blind as a bat for not seeing it ones own way!  Do I see green the same way as an American, if I don’t see it the same way as my own mother?

What colour is green actually?

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2 thoughts on “What colour is green?

  1. Karen Rought says:

    Incredibly interesting post! When I was studying Spanish in college, our professor told us that Hispanics have more words for mountains/hills/etc. than we (Americans) do. It’s because they grew up surrounded by that sort of geography. Much in the same way that those from the UK seems to have more words for rain or water related phenomena. (Or, at least, this is what I have been told. I could be wrong!) I find it so interesting when one culture simply does not have a word that equates in meaning to a word in another language. Thanks for getting my brain working this morning!

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