A reader writes:
I spent the summer of 2008 in West Africa learning about local music and culture. While translating from English to French and vice versa for a friend who was compiling a word list in the Anii language, spoken in mid-western Benin, I found out that the Anii have no native word for blue (they use an adaptation of the English word), and instead say the sky is white.
Their word for leaf also means green, yellow is ginger (the root), and red and pink are the same color to them (I believe they use their word for earth; it certainly is red there). Only black has a word not associated with anything natural.
I thought, arrogantly, that this was charmingly primitive, not giving colors their own names. When I got back to America, I looked up the etymologies for the English words for colors, thinking them all just abstract concepts (and therefore more advanced?). But, lo and behold, a pink is a flower, black comes from a term for soot, and orange, well...
Our concepts of color are so vastly different, yet so similar. I love it!
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