Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote in torn_world,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Torn Tongue: Color Comparisons

Previously we discussed adjectives for colors.  This time we're going to explore some color comparisons.

Color Comparisons

Let's review some of the color terms in Torn Tongue.

English ............... Torn Tongue
black .................... de 
white .................... li 
grey ..................... delina
brown ................... ofare

In Torn Tongue, de  can mean "black" specifically or "dark" generally.  Likewise, li  can mean "white" or "light."  Look at delina, the word for "grey."  The word for "no" is neq  and the affix for "opposite" is na-.  So delina  might be considered "neither black nor white" or "between dark and light."  The words de, delina, and li  thus form a spectrum useful for comparing things of varying shades.  Something similar can be done with ofare  for "brown" in the middle.

Now let's look at some new words.  These deal with variegated colors.

English ................ Torn Tongue
piebald ................... deli
brindle .................... delire
giraffe-patterned ..... kela

These words don't have exact equivalents in English.  Deli  means "black-and-white," "piebald," or "spotted."  It refers to large areas of black and of white, or any dark and light color combination.  Delire  means "light-and-dark brown" or "brindle."  It refers to different shades of brown in a striped, streaked, or swirled pattern.  As said of cats, it means "tabby."  As said of human hair, it is salt-and-pepper (English) or woodgrain (Torn Tongue).  It is also used for actual woodgrain.  Notice that the ending of delire  is the same as the ending of ofareKela  means giraffe-patterned or square-painted, a cream or tan background with darker brown spots, medium in size and regular in spacing, with a blocky shape.  This color pattern is named after the kelard,  a tan bean with squarish brown spots.  So it is a bit similar to the English "pinto."

These terms combine into colloquialisms, too.  The phrase de ath li eshu deli  ("black and white and spotted") means roughly "everything is a mess," that things are all jumbled together and difficult to sort out.  It can also refer to a confusing pile of paperwork, such as license justification forms or homewriting.  In the North, the base comparison is a snow-covered landscape which can reduce familiar objects to random-looking blotches of dark and light.  The phrase delina ath delire  ("grey and brindle") means something like "six of one and half a dozen of the other," a situation when things look quite similar and the differences may be practically irrelevant.  It can also mean "there is no black or white, only shades of grey," implying that matters of legality or morality all just blur together.  In the North, this more often refers to the dim lighting of the weak northern sun, which can reduce the world to shades and shadows, creating a similar confusion.
Tags: linguistics
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