Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Debate about Colour Naming in 19th Century German Philology.

The Debate about Colour Naming in 19th Century German Philology.: Selected Translations

Barbara Saunders editor
Ida-Theresia Marth translator
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 200
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Debate about Colour Naming in 19th Century German Philology.
    Book Description:

    The Debate about Colour Naming in 19th Century Germon Philology is comprised of eleven years essays illustrating the intensity of interest in colour naming and categorization that arose in nineteenth century Germany. The themes of each chapter behind the 'testing' of the colour-naming capacities of 'primitive people' throughout the world, and which move towards new variants of the doctrine of 'evolution'. This Selection of work directs itself towards the growing field of Psychology and the shifting ground on which move towards it was tot form the later debates 'colour naming and categorisation' These essays can be read from both a general and a specialist perspective. They are a fascinating example of the early development of the human sciences, and of the interplay between natural science, social science and ideology.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-121-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 7-42)
    B. Saunders

    The year preceding Darwin’s publication ofThe Origin of the Species(1859) Gladstone published hisStudies in Homerand concluded that there was an oddity about ancient Greek colour terms – namely that abstract forms seemed to be largely absent, and where a colour word was applied its sensibility seemed other than that of modern terms. For Gladstone the data entailed a paradox – namely how could the very model of civil society –logoson the one hand and thepolison the other – the ineffable best of all civilisations – have been exemplified by a language so...

  4. 1 The Development of Colour Perception
    (pp. 43-50)

    Herr Doctor Ernst Krause has subjected my investigations into the development of colour discernment to a most thorough and detailed discussion, and in so doing, has reached conclusions largely in opposition to my findings. Not only does he make questionable my findings on the lack of early man’s ability to distinguish one colour from the other, but indeed he denies their validity. As we cannot deny the importance and substance of the worthy Herr’s polemical critique, we consider it essential to subject his critical illumination of the issue in question to a closer analysis. We do this all the more...

  5. 2 In Defence of My Rejected Critique
    (pp. 51-60)

    I do not necessarily mean to have the last word, but I do hope that with what I am going to state now, I shall contribute to the solution of this ever-recurring controversy. I shall begin immediately to reject the critical reservations with which my own publications were received. Firstly I must confess that in edition three of this journal, I probably caused misunderstanding between my honourable opponent and myself by employing an aphoristic style of writing which was short and sharp; I now would wish to clear this up immediately. So if I said that the perception of colour...

  6. 3 Observations on Primitive Peoples’ Colour Perception
    (pp. 61-76)

    About twenty years ago Gladstone first introduced colour studies; but it was not until Lazarus Geiger commanded the attention of the assembled scientists on 24 September 1867 at the Natural Sciences’ Conference in Frankfurt, by delivering his lecture entitled: ‘Human perception of colour and its progressive development in ancient times’, that colour studies really began. This very text is reproduced in Geiger’s brother, Alfred’s, paper ‘Thoughts on the Historical Development of Man’ (Stuttgart, Cotta). Lazarus Geiger raised the issue in the form of the question: ‘Does the perceptive faculty of man have a history’?

    He put this question as a...

  7. 4 Nubians (from Northeastern Africa)
    (pp. 77-86)

    At about the same time that I spoke on a previous occasion about the formal opening of Mr. Rice’s zoological-anthropological exhibition, this admirable and enterprising man suffered such fatal injuries inflicted by one of his tigers, that, a few days later, he sadly lost his life. This co-incided with the arrival of the eagerly awaited Nubians, and so Messrs. Hagenbeck and Umlaufft, having taken charge of the running of the business meanwhile, promptly set to and with accustomed geneality began to make the acquaintance of the new arrivals. Regrettably pressure of work prevented me from tackling a more extensive number...

  8. 5 Nubians. Observations on their Awareness of Colour as well as their Nomenclature
    (pp. 87-94)

    In the course of recent controversy concerning the lack of colour awareness on the part of primitive races and their highly developed predecessors, dating back to earlier times still and their relevant stages of evolution, researchers appear to have been under the mistaken assumption that the verbal ability to distinguish one colour from the other, as found to have been the case, entitled them (the researchers) without further ado, to draw conclusions regarding these peoples’ specific degree of sense perception or ‘sensibility.’ Richard Andree has to be congratulated on having finally succeeded in lifting the lid on this fallacious argument...

  9. 6 Supplementary Pages to Sahara and Sudan
    (pp. 95-96)

    In a large part of the eastern Sahara as well as in the Sudan, one can distinguish between varying tones of skin colour:

    1. ‘Abjad’ (‘white’), colour of most Europeans and many a city dweller of the North Coast.

    2. ‘Ahma’r (‘red’), predominating colour of Arabs and Berbers.

    3. ‘Asfar’ (‘yellow’), corresponding to a pale bronze colour and prominent within many an Arab and Berber tribe.

    4. ‘Asmar’ (‘brown’), dark copper colour, peculiar to many of the desert dwellers and Sudanese Arabs of mixed parentage.

    5. ‘Achdar’ (‘green’), very dark bronze colour of skin, and found amongst the desert dwellers, many a Negro, and quite...

  10. 7 The Eyes of 9 Lapps, 3 Patagonians and 1 Negro
    (pp. 97-106)

    As the first and foremost ‘Hansa’ town of the European Continent, Hamburg claims the privilege of welcoming the whole world to its shores. It is indeed no great rarity to welcome individuals from anywhere. We were offered the opportunity to become acquainted with some of them, and they allowed us to test their eyes. Our objective was to find out if any of them were short-sighted, and if they had developed a satisfactory awareness of colour.

    The first attempt of this kind bore unfortunately no fruit. One inhabitant of the Sandwich Isles died of pneumonia before the testing could be...

  11. 8 The Evolution of the Human Eye’s Ability to Perceive Different Colour Tones
    (pp. 107-122)

    In recent years it has become the confirmed and accepted view that the human eye did not always have the power of discernment for colour which we take for granted nowadays. One accepts that in ancient times, man was only able to distinguish between light and dark and was thus only endowed with the ability to perceive the colour distinction between different objects as a result of constant breeding and subsequent evolutionary effect of time on the development of the human race. It is known that the first awareness of the distinction between colours centred on ‘red’ and ‘yellow,’ later...

  12. 9 Colour Terms for ‘Blue’ and ‘Green’ in Early Chinese History
    (pp. 123-132)

    It is unfortunate that Chinese dictionaries only rarely – and if so, insufficiently – indicate the different eras in which words were in common usage, and how they might have changed as time went on. To establish how certain words were understood in any one period, it would be necessary to study individually the writings within a given space of time. If we therefore go back and assume that Chinese Antiquity stretched as far as the 7th Century b.c., then the following listing might be applicable.

    1) TheJí-king,but only in rather mysterious texts, which date back to King...

  13. 10 A Research Study of Primitive Peoples’ Awareness and Perception of Colour
    (pp. 133-182)

    The intention to research into the level of colour awareness amongst the lower echelons of civilization, in its very beginning to gain an insight into the relationship between peoples’ ability to perceive colour and the possible influence of their cultural environment, was brought to fruition in a practical way by Holmgren in the year 1877. This was the year in which Holmgren – as he explained to me himself in writing – addressed himself to medical experts in the north of Sweden with the request to be ready and willing to test the native Lapps on their ability to identify...

  14. 11 A Study into the Colour-Sense of the Chukchi People
    (pp. 183-192)

    The Vega Expedition offered a splendid opportunity to investigate and study the colour-awareness of isolated, and therefore primitive people. The idea to initiate such studies came from Professor Fritiof Holmgren, under the aegis of whom such an investigation into the presumed colour-blindness of all underdeveloped peoples was instigated, as far as this would further the object of the expedition. In Tromsö in some hurry, an attempt was made to interview some Lapps and in Chabarowa another group of Samoyeds. During this wearisome and protracted trek to the borders of the Chukotskij Poluostrov, an idea was formed that the investigation should...

  15. References
    (pp. 193-200)