Re: when a language dies six butterflies disappear from the conscious

Date: Sat Sep 16 2000 - 05:23:42 EDT

Are there languages with systematic color-naming
schemes, like computer hex codes for colours?

This reminds me of a certain all-vowel Japanese word,
and I think you know which word I mean.

Robert Lozyniak
Accusplit pedometer manufactures can go suck eggs
My page: - email
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---- Timothy Greenwood <> wrote: > You may care to take a brief break from language > identifiers to appreciate > these lines. They are the final two paragraphs > from the essay "The Last > Word. Can the Worlds Small Languages Be Saved?" > by Earl Shorris in the > August edition of Harpers magazine. > > " I think now that every language has its Ellam > Yua. The consolation the old > men sought existed only in Maya. Every epithet > implied a unique set of > attributes, every sound described a unique Being. > It is not merely a > writer's conceit to think that the human world > is made of words and to > remember that no two words in all the world's languages > are alike. Of all > the arts and sciences made by man, none equals > a language, for only a > language in its living entirety can describe a > unique and irreplaceable > world. I saw this once, in the forest of southern > Mexico, when a butterfly > settled beside me. The color of it was a blue unlike > any I had ever seen, > hue and intensity beyond naming, a test for the > possibilities of metaphor. > In the distance lay the ruined Maya city of Palenque, > where the glyphs that > speak of the reign of the great lord Pacal are > carved in stone. The glyphs > can be deciphered now. Perhaps. Only perhaps, for > no one knows what words > were spoken, what sounds were made when Pacal the > Conqueror reigned. It may > seem cryptic or even Socratic to say, but, in truth, > only spoken words can > he heard. > There are nine different words in Maya for the > color blue in the > comprehensive Porrúa Spanish-Maya Dictionary but > just three Spanish > translations, leaving six butterflies that can > be seen only by the Maya, > proving beyond doubt that when a language dies > six butterflies disappear > from the consciousness of the earth." > > Tim > > >

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