Naming and reality: slug/snail, schaar/ scissorS, ...

ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
I started a thread at AL about the above, but I would like to know how one describes the question precisely and where the topic has been dealt with in linguistics/ semantics...

Is it simply the variety of perceptions that leads to the various names/referents?

And in that connection: do the various names of watches and clocks refer to the same thing? One reality but perceived differently? My feeling/ hunch is that the similarity is simply recognized and the various words are simply more specific, whereas snails/ slugs is a matter of a different perception of reality (related or not?)....
 
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You may be interested in this article: Blue–green distinction in language - Wikipedia

    Colour is an interesting example because there is a complex but scientifically measurable component to the distinctions made. (It isn't all science and wavelength though - I think that Irish and Scots Gaelic, for example, make some colour distinctions on the basis of whether the colour is man-made or part of the natural environment.)
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    That is an interesting idea indeed. Now, I just thought of the sky: it is often blue, but then I wonder whether not everyone will call it blue. I suppose in some cases it is very hard to distinguish what exactly the referent/... is referring to, I suppose, as is also suggested by the Wiki article!
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    The sky is generally azzurro or celeste (light blue) in Italian, the blu colour does exist but it is definitely darker than azzurro or celeste. :)
    But do Italians really see them as two colours or as two hues of one? I say that because we have atzur and celeste in Catalan too and, granted, they're rather literary and everybody says blau for the sky, but atzur and celeste would be just regarded as light hues of blau. And even if azzurro is common in Italian, well, nel blu dipinto di blu ♫... :)

    And I'd pose the very same question to Russians with синий and голубой.

    This said, yes, the different appreciation of colours by language is an interesting complex matter in itself.
     
    blau for the sk
    As far as I know, in Catalan blau is used much more frequently than Italian blu. Both azzurro and celeste are pretty common in Italian. Personally, I see them as two colours. For instance, blu is the colour of the sky at night when it is clear. However, technically they should be different hues of the same colour: celeste, azzurro, blu o turchino.
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    But do Italians really see them as two colours or as two hues of one? I say that because we have atzur and celeste in Catalan too and, granted, they're rather literary and everybody says blau for the sky, but atzur and celeste would be just regarded as light hues of blau.
    In Greek, the cloudless sky (ανέφελος ουρανός) is not blue (μπλε), it's light blue (γαλάζιος).
    So, we have a word for each colour. But we can also say "ανοιχτό μπλε" ("light blue") to mean "γαλάζιο".
     

    Linnets

    Senior Member
    In Italian:
    celeste < Latin caelestis 'related to the sky, heavenly'
    azzurro < Persian lāžward 'lapis lazuli'
    blu < Germanic *blawo 'pale, of the colour of clear sky'
    turchese < Old French (pierre) turqueise 'Turkish (stone)'
     
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    n Italian:
    celeste < Latin caelestis 'related to the sky, heavenly'
    azzurro < Persian lāžward 'lapis lazuli'
    blu < Germanic *blawo 'pale, of the colour of clear sky'
    turchese < Old French (pierre) turqueise 'Turkish (stone)'
    Treccani also distinguishes between cielo azzurro during the day and cielo blu o turchino at night if it is clear. :)
    blu in Vocabolario - Treccani
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Interesting extra distinctions. Just wondering then: is there an overarching kind of "blue" or do you have to choose one of those four options, or five?

    Another suggestion perhaps: in how many cases can you refer to a key when there is no real/ genuine [door] key involved? [I suppose the door key is the first meaning...] In Dutch we could refer to
    - a beer key (to open up bottles), to
    - music keys [such as "'In the key of life" (Stevie Wonder)], but also to
    - a ringsleutel for car mechanics (see picture below) and of course also to
    - clues [helping to solve mysteries, whereas I think it is a metaphor historically, but English does make a lexical distinction, clue vs. key, whereas strictly speaking both mean the same: clé = key/]...

    1630772424210.png
     
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    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Is it simply the variety of perceptions that leads to the various names/referents?

    Language involves classification. There are an infinite number of phenomena and there has to be a limit to the classification. Up to a point, how the classification is made depends on what speakers want and need to say.

    Botanists have lot of words to describe leaves - see here: Glossary of leaf morphology - Wikipedia. The fact that botanists have all these words does not prevent non-botanists from appreciating the wide variety of leaf shapes. If someone unfamiliar with botanical terminology wants to describe a particular leaf he can do so using ordinary language.

    To most of us a door is a door. To my father who was a carpenter each part of a door and its frame had a name.

    The above may be extreme cases, but everyday life varies from place to place. People have the language they need according to what they need to talk about and what is important to them. There is though going to be some arbitrariness. In English we distinguish between "upside-down", "back-to-front" and "inside-out". Other languages have one term to cover all three. I have an item of clothing made in Barcelona with washing instructions in English which says I should iron the garment upside-down.

    Mention is made above about colours in Gaelic. Only the other day I was listening to a programme about the Celts. The speaker said that Gaelic has something like twenty words for brown. The explanation was that wealth was once measured in cattle and that it was important to be able to describe accurately the beasts you owned.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks a lot. This reference to (the term/concept) 'classification' might be a very good one, helping me in my general research (obsession?).

    Door is an excellent example indeed. Une porte elicits quite different associations with me due to the difference deur/ poort in Dutch: a poort is a gate, but a door is not, no way. And not any opening that one could walk through is a door either.
    It also reminds me of ajar: I am not sure if English has a perfect word for this (in Dutch: op een kier/ on a jar/ cier????). one student thought of the little slit between front teeth [which is a little opening as well] and referred to it as een kier tussen de tanden, a jar/... between the teeth. Hilariously funny for us!

    Great story about the importance of the colour brown in connection with riches...
     
    In Greek:

    • Door key = «Κλειδί» [kliˈði] (neut.) < Byzantine Greek neuter diminutive «κλειδίον» kleidíon of the Classical 3rd declension feminine noun «κλείς» kleís (nom. sinɡ.), «κλειδός» kleidós (ɡen. sinɡ.).
    • Beer key = «Ανοιχτήρι» [aniˈxtiɾi] (neut.) --> lit. opener < Byzantine Greek neuter noun «ἀνοικτήριον» anoiktḗrion (idem) < Byzantine Greek v. «ἀνοίγω» anoíɡō --> to open < Classical athematic v. «ἀνοίγνυμι» ănoíɡnŭmĭ.
    • Music key = «Μουσικό κλειδί» [mus̠iˈko̞ kliˈði] (both neut.).
    • Spanner/wrench = «Κλειδί» [kliˈði] (neut.).
    • Clue(s) = «Στοιχείο, -α» [s̠tiˈçi.o̞] (neut. nom. sing.), [s̠tiˈçi.a] (neut. nom. pl.) --> (chemical) element(s), component(s), font(s) in free-standing/alphabetical form, clue(s) < Classical deverbative neut. noun «στοιχεῖον» stoikʰeîŏn (idem) < Classical v. «στοιχέω/στοιχῶ» stoikʰéō (uncontracted)/stoiʰkô (contracted) --> to form a row, to stand in file and rank, to match, agree, be content, follow (PIE *stei̯gʰ- to stride cf Proto-Germanic *stikaną > Ger. stechen, Dt. steken, *staigriz > Eng. stair, Dt. steiger; Proto-Slavic *stignǫti > Rus. постигнуть, OCS постигнѫти > BCS stignuti/стигнути).
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I see I have not had too many answers referring to the concrete question I "launched" in #11, but I quite understand. I repeat it here, with the answers for Italian:

    In Italian:
    • (door) key chiave;
    • beer key apribottiglie;
    • music key chiave musicale;
    • spanner/wrench chiave (meccanica);
    • clues indizi.
    What I notice so far is that

    - the beer key is not always called a key
    - the key metaphors for indications seems to be less common too
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I see I have not had too many answers referring to the concrete question I "launched" in #11, but I quite understand. I repeat it here, with the answers for Italian:


    What I notice so far is that

    - the beer key is not always called a key
    - the key metaphors for clues seems to be less common too
    "Indications" means "clues" in French, but not in English.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I wondered about that, but thought of "I have no clue", and I now find a list here showing how "clue" is used as some kind of indication. But I suppose you mean that one cannot use "clé" in French in that meaning. I was walking with French-speaking friends recently and we talked about "indices" proving that we were on the right track.

    But I suddenly realize: you are referring to "indications" as opposed to the French "indices", I guess. Those are false friends...
     
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