Snap Dragon Girl (jfran2258) wrote in linguaphiles,
Snap Dragon Girl
jfran2258
linguaphiles

Hopi colors

 A few years ago I was watching a video in an anthropology class about the Hopi. According to this video, the Hopi have four colors: white, red, yellow, and blue. I find this odd since I've been reading about Berlin and Kay's theory of color development. If the Hopi have a word for blue (which I assume covers what English calls green as well as blue), shouldn't they have a fifth color, black? Or does blue also cover black as well? Black, white, red, and yellow would fit the theory. 

To me it seems rather odd that the people in the video who spoke both Hopi and English fluently would consider this fourth color "blue," not "black" or "dark" or "green." How do Berlin and Kay account for this?  Is what the Hopi translate as "blue" in English really hurting the theory or not? If we assume that what English calls black, green, and blue are all one color in Hopi. 
 
The video went on to say that the Hopi had breed their corn to be the four different colors. The blue variety was indeed a blueish-purple. Could it be that while Hopi would say that grass is "blue" and soot is "blue," by default the color they think when thinking about this color is that of their corn and therefore it would translate into English as blue? 
 
Does this invalidate the theory?
Tags: colors, cultural perceptions
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