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I would never think to describe a room as "rain-darkened," ... not a room. Does "rain-darkened room" sound reasonable to you?

How are you with wine-dark sea? ***-tightening sea?

Didn't Jim himself use the second expression? Must be OK, then.

Charles Riggs
How are you with wine-dark sea? ***-tightening sea?

Fine, but I wouldn't be happy with 'wine-dark' or 'storm-dark' ship's cabin, and that's the problem I had with 'rain-darkened room'. I love 'rain-darkened landscape', but find it hard to extend that to the room.

Me too, but how about a weatherman talking about 'soft air'? A CNN news host jumped on his expression with much glee the other day, apparently ignorant of the common Irish expression 'a soft day', not that I'm so sure that moist air, perhaps with a bit of rain, was what the weatherman was referring to.

Charles Riggs
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I would never think to describe a room as "rain-darkened," ... not a room. Does "rain-darkened room" sound reasonable to you?

How are you with wine-dark sea? ***-tightening sea?

There has, I believe, been some discussion about 'wine-dark sea' over the years, complete with theories regarding the likelihood of either the wine or the sea having changed colour.

John Briggs
How are you with wine-dark sea? ***-tightening sea?

There has, I believe, been some discussion about 'wine-dark sea' over the years, complete with theories regarding the likelihood of either the wine or the sea having changed colour.

Or even better: the theory that the ability to see colours is culturaly aquired.
Those poor old Greeks just didn't see that many colours, cause they didn't have words for them.
I am not inventing it,
the theory has been proposed and defended in all seriousness,

Jan
There has, I believe, been some discussion about 'wine-dark sea' ... of either the wine or the sea having changed colour.

Or even better: the theory that the ability to see colours is culturaly aquired. Those poor old Greeks just didn't ... didn't have words for them. I am not inventing it, the theory has been proposed and defended in all seriousness,

If you've been to the Greek islands, and have seen the gentle blues and greens of the sea that laps up on their beaches, it's eay to see how describing the deep, open ocean as being "dark as wine" would
have made an effective metaphor with the added
advantage of handily filling a slot in a Greek hexameter line.

Michael West
Melbourne, Australia
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There has, I believe, been some discussion about 'wine-dark sea' ... of either the wine or the sea having changed colour.

Or even better: the theory that the ability to see colours is culturaly aquired. Those poor old Greeks just didn't ... didn't have words for them. I am not inventing it, the theory has been proposed and defended in all seriousness,[/nq]New one on me. Can you put names to the proponents? I'm aware that there is much interest in colour terminology. Perhaps unsurprising, given that the colour spectrum is continuous and that the subdivisions are to some extent arbitrary. There seem to be 11 or 12 basic categories for colours. Sophisticated societies use many more terms - I think we've debated cyan, cerise, maroon and others here - while less sophisticated have less.

Some languages have been identified as having only two terms - corresponding to 'dark' and 'light' - but it's generally accepted (I thought) that this is nothing to do with neural wiring, it just reflects what's useful. I use no more than the basic dozen, which infuriates Mrs Dean ("Can't you see your shirt is a DIFFERENT KIND OF BLUE to my blouse?" "Yours is blue. Mine is blue." "AARGH!")
If I remember correctly, Newton was the man to say there were seven colours in the rainbow, because the number seven accorded with his weirder mystical ideas. Earlier analysts saw different numbers. Aristotle saw three.

John Dean
Oxford
If you've been to the Greek islands, and have seen the gentle blues and greens of the sea that laps ... have made an effective metaphor with the added advantage of handily filling a slot in a Greek hexameter line.

I second that. It wasn't till I visited Greek islands (and the Mediterranean around them) that I appreciated how accurate the phrase really is.

Katy Jennison
spamtrap: remove the first two letters after the @
Or even better: the theory that the ability to see ... the theory has been proposed and defended in all seriousness,

If you've been to the Greek islands, and have seen the gentle blues and greens of the sea that laps up on their beaches, it's eay to see how describing the deep, open ocean as being "dark as wine" would

Ocean? Greek?
have made an effective metaphor with the added advantage of handily filling a slot in a Greek hexameter line.

Except that 'wine-dark sea' is an invention of a modern translator. (Rieu?)
Literal translation would give wine-red sea, I have been told, by someone more competent in this,
Jan
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Or even better: the theory that the ability to see ... the theory has been proposed and defended in all seriousness,

New one on me. Can you put names to the proponents?

The theory was first proposed by William Gladstone (1858) (right in the wake of Darwin) and taken up by others. He hypothesised, based on linguistic analysis of Homer, that retinal development was incomplete in the ancient Greeks. They were all colour blind by modern standards,
and capable of seeing only a few colours.
Googling on "colour vision" with "cultural relativity" will give you more.
I'm aware that there is much interest in colour terminology. Perhaps unsurprising, given that the colour spectrum is continuous and ... many more terms - I think we've debated cyan, cerise, maroon and others here - while less sophisticated have less.

The number of named colours increased enormously with cultural developpement. A nice literary counter argument to Gladstone is that Chaucer mentions 'a colour between red and yellow'. This shows that he was capable of seeing and distinguishing orange without having a word for it.
(snip "AARGH!" I sympathise.)
Twelve colours should be enough for anybody.
To me Gladstone illustrates evolutionary views of scientific progress, as suggested by Thomas Kuhn.
Whenever there is a possibility of inventing a crazy theory, someone will do it, and perhaps make a life's work defending it. The usual method s to expent a by itself not unreasonable idea far beyond its carrying capacity.
Most such theories will be eliminated by selection.

Best,
Jan
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