[tlhIngan Hol] On Klingon colours: Is the Klingon vision bichromatic?

Brent Kesler brent.of.all.people at gmail.com
Tue Sep 3 07:26:57 PDT 2019


If I remember correctly, someone wrote an article about this in HolQeD a
couple decades ago. The online index shows:

     colors: 8:1/7; and Klingon physiology, 5:2/7-9.

To make a long story short, there's a theory called the Berlin-Kay color
hierarchy. It argues that the number of basic colors terms in a language
predicts which colors get named. For example, if a language has only two
color terms, they'll be black and white. If it has three color terms, the
third term will be red. If it has four terms, the fourth term will be
EITHER green or yellow, and if it has a fifth term, it will be the other of
the two. The conclusion is that languages have to name colors in a way that
fits human color perception, hence the hierarchy.

Klingon breaks this pattern by having one word for BOTH green and yellow.
The HolQeD article argued that this was a deliberate choice by MO to make
the Klingon language more alien.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Color_Terms:_Their_Universality_and_Evolution

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity_and_the_color_naming_debate


bI'reng

On Sun, Sep 1, 2019 at 4:08 PM SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:

> On 9/1/2019 3:12 PM, Michael Kúnin wrote:
>
> Otherwise, if Klingons are bichromatic, then they would see any non-greyscale colour as either a variety of {Doq} or a variety of {SuD}, so it is not much possible to use colour as a defining attribute of an object. No wonder they are irritated by other species making distinctions where they see none!
>
> I wonder if there is a Klingon word meaning "be grey".
>
> How a language divides up its color words has little to do with whether
> they can visually perceive those colors. There are real human languages
> that have the same number of color words as Klingons, but speakers of these
> languages don't lack our color vision. It's canonically speculated that
> Klingons can't see all of purple that we do, but otherwise their vision
> seems to be similar to ours.
>
> In English we have a basic color term *pink,* which is considered a
> different color than red. But in English when we look at blue jeans, then
> we look at the sky, we call both of them *blue.* (*Cyan* is not a basic
> color term; it's comparing the color to something else.) But in Russian,
> for example, they use two unrelated words for the two colors. A Russian
> might incorrectly think that an English speaker who points to blue jeans
> then points to the sky and says *blue* for both of them cannot see the
> distinct colors. But we would not point at a cherry blossom and say *red,
> *even though pink is a shade of red.
>
> When a Klingon points at a yellow plant and says *SuD,* then points at
> the green sky and says *SuD,* it's not that they appear to be the same
> color to him. It's no different than us calling jeans and the sky *blue.*
> Different shades of color grouped under one name.
>
> In Klingon, *be gray* is *qIj 'ej wov* or *qIj 'ach wov** (TalkNow). *Gray
> is a shade of black.
>
> --
> SuStelhttp://trimboli.name
>
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