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"Colors of Spring" -- and others Login/Join
 
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Quite some time ago we had a theme titled "The Colors of Fall". Today, as spring blooms, it seems appropriate to do a theme on the colors you will see about you in the season's awakening.

gamboge – a strong yellow color (some say strong reddish yellow)
[from the older form of the name Cambodia, where grew a tree yielding a pigment - also called gamboge - producing this color]

We illustrate with a Walt Whitman passage, so beautiful an image of nature that I must quote at length.
    Among the objects of beauty and interest now beginning to appear quite plentifully in this secluded spot, I notice the humming-bird, the dragon-fly with its wings of slate-color’d gauze, and many varieties of beautiful and plain butterflies, idly flapping among the plants and wild posies. The mullein has shot up out of its nest of broad leaves, to a tall stalk towering sometimes five or six feet high, now studded with knobs of golden blossoms. The milk-weed, (I see a great gorgeous creature of gamboge and black lighting on one as I write,) is in flower, with its delicate red fringe; and there are profuse clusters of a feathery blossom waving in the wind on taper stems. I see lots of these and much else in every direction, as I saunter or sit. For the last half hour a bird has persistently kept up a simple, sweet, melodious song, from the bushes. (I have a positive conviction that some of these birds sing, and others fly and flirt about here, for my especial benefit.)
    – Walt Whitman, Specimen Days (1892)
 
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cerulean – pure, strong blue, the color of the cloudless sky
[Note: the dictionaries say "pure deep blue", but to me 'deep' would indicate a darkened color. Would you agree?]

vermilion - a bright red or scarlet
    Every year, in mid-April, we stop the world and hike a short way into the woods to the banks of Cub Run. There, we find the largest crop of Virginia bluebells in the country—God’s glorious herald of springtime blankets the forest in cerulean splendor. It’s really my favorite day of the year.
    – Elizabeth Foss, Arlington Catholic Herald, Apr. 28, 2005

    Resplendent in their vermilion robes, the conclave chose the first German Pope for 1000 years.
    Liam Rudden, The Scotsman, Apr. 23, 2005

    The lingerie section of this proto-mall displays underskirts in colours that would make a flamenco dancer proud - vermilion, emerald, purple, crimson and blue satin
    – Robin Gauldie, The Scotsman, Apr. 23, 2005
 
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I was looking up something else and found this wonderful discussion of the etymology of colors, written by Quinion.

As for "cerulean," when my daughter was in 8th grade, she used the word in a paper. She has always read a lot and had a good vocabulary. Her teacher told her that it wasn't a word, and she had to show it to him in the dictionary! Razz
 
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The ladies will appreciate today's spring color, for it has often been the fashionable shade.

coquelicot – poppy-colored: brilliant red with orange.
    Jane Austen's letter to her sister Cassandra, Dec. 18, 1798:
    I took the liberty a few days ago of asking your black velvet bonnet to lend me its caul, which it readily did, and by which I have been enabled to give a considerable improvement of dignity to the cap, which was before too nidgetty to please me. . . . I still venture to retain the narrow silver round it, put twice round without any bow, and instead of the black military feather shall put in the coquelicot one as being smarter, and besides coquelicot is to be all the fashion this winter. After the ball I shall probably make it entirely black.

    on how James McNeil Whistler presented his 1884 showing in London:
    The opening was limited to invited guests and was designed to attract the attention of reporters eager to document the doings of the rich and famous. Guests included the kind of wealthy Londoners whom the reviewer for [the newspaper] Queen described simply as "fashionable people." Queen, which was mainly interested in the clothes, noted that in the ladies' dress, the fashionable coquelicot was predominant …
    . . . .The fact that so many fashionable women wore coquelicot (poppy red) was probably intentional. Whistler often asked his lady friends to dress in colors that would harmonize with his designs, and one of the most vibrant "notes" that echoed through the installation was that rung by the bright poppy reds that dominate several of the most striking figure paintings ...
    – Kenneth John Myers, Mr. Whistler's gallery: the art of displaying art, Magazine Antiques, Nov. 1, 2003
Bonus word: nidgetty – trifling or fussy
[Extremely rare. Basically, OED has only the above Austen citation.]
 
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Originally posted by wordcrafter:
The ladies will appreciate today's spring color, for it has often been the fashionable shade.

coquelicot – poppy-colored: brilliant red with orange.


I googled for coquelicot and got a lot of French language sites. My French is rather basic, but I managed to understand the Google synopses enough to work out what each site was about and I chose this one. I love how the computerised translation here renders "rameuse" as "oarswoman" and "feuilles velues" as "hairy sheets"!

I found another, rather sweet, reference to "coquelicot" here Smile.
 
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Two colors today.

virescent – the light green of a newly-budded leaf (but see note below)
What a lovely color for spring! Once again, we have beautiful and striking quotations.
    I do not recall ever seeing the aurora more active. … At first it was a sheaf of tremulous rays; then it became a great river of silver shot through with flaming gold. … It began to pulsate, gently at first, then faster and faster. The whole structure dissolved into a system of virescent arches, all sharply defiant. Above these revolved battery upon battery of searchlights, which fanned the heavens with a heightening lustrousness. Pale greens and reds and yellows touched the stately structures; the whole dark sky came to life."
    – Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Alone

    Between them stood a table covered with green baize, which, reflecting upwards a band of sunlight shining across the chamber, flung upon his already white features the virescent hues of death.
    – Thomas Hardy, The Hand of Ethelberta, ch. 39
Note: The definition above is my own, for it seems to me that the dictionaries' definition ("greenish; becoming green") does not match how the term is used. In usage, the color 'virescent' is predominantly green – not a yellow shaded over towards ('becoming') green – and the green is modified by a lighter color (yellow or white) rather than a darker one (black, brown or blue). If you start with black, adding green until just before (or just after) the green dominates will not produce the color called 'virescent'.
. . . .Put differently: the color 'virescent' is a green that has been yellowed or lightened, not darkened. If some other color (yellow, for example) has a greenish tinge, it might be called a 'virescent' yellow, but it is not the color called 'virescent'.



primrose – a pale yellow color
[from the plant of the same name, bearing spring flowers of that color]
    In careless patches through the wood
    The clumps of yellow primrose stood,
    And sheets of white anemones,
    Like driven snow against the trees,
    Had covered up the violet, But left the bluebells bluer yet.
    – A. A. Milne, The Invaders, in When We Were Very Young

    … the design really springs to life in strong pastels. How about shades of yellow from pale primrose to deep golden yellow with sky blue, lavender and mint green centres?
    – Kaffe Fassett, Family Album: Kniting for Children and Adults

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purpure – purple
This term, now confined to heraldry, is the older form of our word "purple". The word has a fascinating history, and it originally meant a different color, but that story is too long for our word a day (you'll find it posted below). For now, I'll just tell you how this color was associated with royalty, and how the r-sound at the end of purpure changed to the l-sound in purple.

Because dye of this color was extraordinarily costly to make, purpure cloth was associated with royalty and eventually reserved for royalty only.
    [No one may] use or weare in any maner their appparell, or upon their horse, mule, or other beast, anny silke of the colour of purpure, ne any cloth of Gold of tissue, but onely the King [and certain close relatives].
    – English statute, enacted 1533
The name first came into English in 893 as purpuran, but an ending with the l-sound, 'purple', soon developed, and by about 600 years later had supplanted the r-ending.
    ... consonants and vowels alter because of nearby sounds … Certain sound such as 'r' and 'l' are particularly susceptible to this process. For example, the word grammar has two 'r's and for some dialect speakers during the late Middle ages this proved just far too tricky. So they changed the first 'r' to an 'l' and grammar became glamour. …. Speakers also remodeled the Latin words marmor, turtur and purpur to marble, turtle and purple. (Compare the colour purpure in heraldry, which is conservative and retains the original 'r'.)
    – Kate Burridge, Blooming English: Observations on the Roots, Cultivation and Hybrids of the English Language

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So long ago as 1400 B.C. the Phoenicians of Tyre produced a fabled, extraordinary – and "fiendishly expensive" – dye. The art later spread to the Greeks and thence to the Romans; the Iliad and Aeneid each mention garments so dyed. The dyed cloth was "worth more than gold itself … In the third century A.D., a pound of purple-dyed wool cost around three times the yearly wage of a baker." Only royals could afford it

It was so expensive because the dye was extraordinarily difficult to produce. One problem was getting the shellfish extract. "It is no easy matter to extract the [shellfish's] organ," said Aristotle. Each shellfish yielded only a drop of extract, and "one ounce of the [final] dye required the sacrifice of around 250,000 shellfish. The shell piles of the Phoenicians still litter the eastern shore of the Mediterranean." Further, it took a sensitive hand to convert the extract to dye. The extract would change color, on exposure to air and light (from clear to "a whitish color, to pale yellow, green, blue, and finally purple"), and extracts from two different species had to be used properly together, one for the basic color, and another to modify it and provide color-fastness.

However, the color was not what we call purple. It varied "from bluish to a deep red," depending on the preparation and application. It could be "the color of clotted blood;" or "that precious color which gleams with the hue of a dark rose", or have a form with form with "black hue [with the] severity and crimson-like sheen which in fashion." (Pliny) Thus, throughout the ancient and medieval world, purpure could equally mean a shade of dark red or crimson, and indeed is steeped in associations with blood." Robert Browning (1855) recalled another shade:
    Who has not heard how Tyrian shells
    Enclosed the blue, that dye of dyes,
    Whereof one drop worked miracles,
    And coloured like Astarte's eyes
    Raw silk the merchant sells?
The shellfish, the dye, and the dyed cloth were all called purpura in Latin, from Greek porphura. In 893 the Latin came into Old English in the form purpuran, but meant only "royal cloth" or "rich cloth". It later became a color name used solely royal clothing – but the color signified was apparently not our purple but rather the crimson color typical of royal robes. By Chaucer's time it had become a general color term; I cannot tell you when or how the it came to mean the color we call purple.

Sources: Philip Ball, Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color, and, for the last paragraph, OED and Ronald W. Casson's essay in Color Categories in Thought and Language (C. L. Hardin, ed.)

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I am doing the words of the day, for awhile anyway, on wordcraftjr. This week I am doing a color theme, since wordcrafter had just done one. Today's word is "fuschia." In reading about the word and its derivation, I found this in Wikipedia:

Pronunciation of "Fuchsia" is difficult for many English language speakers, as the correct pronunciation from the German origin of the name is "fook-sya" /ˈfʊksja/, readily confusable with the profanity "fuck". As a result, most English speakers tend to say "fyew'sha" /ˈfjuːʃə/.

Really, it should be pronounced "fook-sya?" Interesting. [Obviously, I did not point this out to the kids...it would soon be their favorite color, pronouncing it correctly, of course! Roll Eyes]
 
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Originally posted by Kalleh:

Really, it should be pronounced "fook-sya?"


Of course it should. Approximately. Give or take the German "ch" and ending in a schwa not an "a". If we were speaking German. Of course as we are speaking English it should be pronounced as we pronounce it otherwise we'd have to pronounce all of our foreign derived words in the way they were originally pronounced and that would alter most of the language.
 
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Originally posted by BobHale:
as we are speaking English it should be pronounced as we pronounce it otherwise we'd have to pronounce all of our foreign derived words in the way they were originally pronounced and that would alter most of the language.
Interesting. But in our prior discussions, some were in favor of pronouncing 'schadenfreude' in the Germanic manner. I'm wondering if there's any simple principle.
 
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If we were speaking German. Of course as we are speaking English it should be pronounced as we pronounce it otherwise we'd have to pronounce all of our foreign derived words in the way they were originally pronounced and that would alter most of the language.


Shu, no wonder we're married. I had precisely the same question! Further, it was made so very clear to those of us who were apparently 'misprounouncing' it that we should pronounce the "e" on the end because that's how its pronounced in German.
 
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When we incorporate a word from another language we adapt the pronunciation to suit ourselves, and often the meaning as well. The new pronunciation becomes the correct American pronunciation.

Does that sound familiar? I lifted it from here. Some words retain their original pronunciation, more or less, while others are changed. The pronunciation of fuchsia has been thoroughly Americanized as 'fyü-sh& ( M-W ), and to try to give it a German pronunciation would sound pretentious for most Americans.

I surfed for Leonhart von Fuchs (I've also seen it spelled Leonhard von Fuchs) and found a German article. Here's the translation. I couldn't understand much of it, but fuchs is apparently German for fox. Click on the link at the top of the page to get the original German version.

Tinman

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Yes, thanks for that reminder of your past post, Tinman. That's exactly what I had thought had happenend with the pronunciation of "Schadenfreude," but apparently not.

[BTW, I learned something when searching for that "Schadenfreude" thread. If you are searching for something on the whole board, and not just in the forum where you are posting, you have to go to "advanced." That may be why I've had trouble searching recently.]
 
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This kids word of the day board is bringing up questions for this board!

Today's word was "azure." The online dictionaries vary from "light blue" to "bright blue" to "deep blue," though most seem to agree on the color of the sky. The online OED seems to support all those definitions, too. However, the AHD and Wordnet talked about a "light purplish blue. I have never thought of "azure" being a purplish-blue, have you?
 
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It looks like the dictionaries are similarly confused about cerulean to judge from wordcrafter's post above!


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Originally posted by BobHale:

Give or take the German "ch"


The "ch" is pronounced [k] in the combination "chs", as in the animal names Fuchs, Ochs, Lachs (salmon), Dachs (badger).

However, it has its normal "ch" value ([x] or [ç]) when the "s" is an inflection, as in Reichs-.
 
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