50 'shades' of grey

Discussion in 'English Only' started by lusafaty, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. lusafaty New Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Thai/Cantonese
    Hello people,

    I am kind of confused with the word "shade" as in a book's title "50 shades of grey" by E.L James. Can anyone please explain a little bit to me?
    Thank you
     
  2. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    In the dictionary entry for shade, you'll find
     
  3. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    From the dictionary one meaning of shade is
    In this case many different combinations of grey can be created by mixing different amounts of black and white - each different mixture is a different "shade" of grey, from almost black to almost white.
     
  4. heypresto

    heypresto Senior Member

    South East England
    English - England
    A shade in this context is a variety or degree of colour. You can have a light shade, for instance, or a dark shade, and any number of shades in between. Imagine going from white to black. You will go through many (strictly speaking an infinite number) shades of grey.

    I haven't read the book, so I don't know exactly how the title relates to the story, or why there should be exactly 50 shades.

    Cross-posted.
     
  5. lusafaty New Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Thai/Cantonese
    Thank you, Andygc and Julian and heypresto!
     
  6. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
  7. morior_invictus

    morior_invictus Senior Member

    Slovak
    Since the main character in the novel is called Christian Grey, this title could also mean 50 Shades of (Christian) Grey.
     
  8. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    As with most literary works, the title is both literal and figurative.
    As there are many shades of grey, there are many "dark" shades to the character.
    It is quite deliberate that the book was not called, for example, "50 Shades of Blue", or "50 Shades of Red".
    Each of those could, in their own right, have a particular meaning.
    "50 Shades of Blue" could refer to a sad character; "50 Shades of Red" could refer to a violent/angry/mean person.
    I have no doubt that "50 Shades of Grey" is indicative of the many variants of the main character's darker passion/lifestyle.
     
  9. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Specialists in colour distinguish between shades which are darker than the base colour (the hue), and tints which are paler. The reference point is the most saturated (i.e. strongly coloured) original hue. This means that brown can be described as a shade of orange, while light apricot is a tint of orange; the shades are obtained by adding black to the original, the tints by adding white. If you add both black and white to a hue, you get a tone.

    Alas, these very useful distinctions are seldom respected in everyday language.
     
  10. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    And yet, "Shade" is a better word in describing the main character of this book. "Tones of Grey" does not have the same implications nor does it resonate the way that "shades" does.
    Literary works do not have to conform to any "rules"; that's what makes them enjoyable to some. Art doesn't live inside the constraints of what society says is "proper".

    Would specialists in color classify "light apricot" as a color? Odd, I've never seen that listed as a color by any specialist.... It seems the author of this book is not the only person to stray outside the lines of "correct", eh?
     
  11. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Of course, that's my own choice of nomenclature. I didn't think that referring to RAL 1033 would have helped the discussion along much.
     
  12. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Is the author perhaps punning on one or more of the 13+ meanings of "shade" accepted by the OED? One that immediately comes to mind is "ghost." Then there's Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray, which has much wit and wisdom to allude to.
     
  13. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    That's why they are called specialists :) : it's a question of lack of knowledge (that such technical precision in word choice is available), rather than lack of respect. The hue/tint/tone/shade colour system could be termed jargon, or at least technical terminology.
     
  14. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    It's a pity she didn't call him 'Black'.

    All that the title conveys to me is '50 different types of dull':)
     
  15. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    Never judge a book by its cover (title). ;)

    Quite a saucy book/character, really. :)
     

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