I wrote about color terms 3 years ago but thought I’d revisit it a bit.  I found this video on colors in the Navajo language.  In this video, I noticed that Navajo (like Hanis, Milluk, and Siuslaw/Umpqua) uses the same word for both blue and green.  But, if a Navajo speaker wants to specify blue or green s/he can add modifiers like ‘algae’ and ‘sky’ to the blue/green word.

We could do the same for our languages.  In Hanis and Milluk blue and green is k’isilis.  To specify shades of green we could use the word for ‘grass, leaves, brush’ which is hlinik‘, so hlinik’ k’isilis could specify shades of green (and exclude what in English we would call blue).  For the ‘blue’ specific modifier, sky is qais in Hanis, qahais in Milluk; so qais k’isilis and qahais k’isilis (in Hanis and Milluk respectively) for shades of blue (and excluding greens).

Per Frachtenberg’s vocabulary, in he lists two words that can be used for green and blue: squuqhlnis and qtsinqtsin.  (Perhaps the difference is due to regional dialect; unfortunately Frachtenberg gives no details here and perhaps he was not able to get details).   Like the Coos languages, one could use the word for grass (tsahauya) to specify shades of green and the word for sky (tsxayuuwi) for blue.

From the video it sounds like Navajo did not have a word for purple but created one by using the word for a purple flower.  We could do the same and the flower that came to mind is that of the shore lupine (Lupinus littoralis), because it is a purple-flowered plant that we have a word recorded for in the 3 languages.  In Hanis it is ha’uudit, Milluk is ha’wadit, k’a’asa in the Lower Umpqua dialect and q’axts’ in Siuslaw.

About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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