Sunday, 26 June 2011

Green With Envy?

Greens: forest, olive, verdigris, reptile, broad bean, apple fool...

Depth and spread of recorded words found wanting, we rummage for similes in the natural and made-made world - with varying success. Rendering the precise colour of what we behold being one of the less demanding tasks. One would have thought.
Yet, even clichés fail to deliver. Clichés: those victimised linguistic gems, deemed so apt when first conjured into being that their very popularity eventually turns them into the object of derision.
And yet, so imprecise, so utterly wrong. Emerald green – some traffic lights are; eyes? Never. Mine own are green, essentially; but also grey; there’s a hint of blue; there are speckles of gold and blotches of brown; and they change from day to day and mood to mood.
How can they be green when that is the colour of grass, of peas, of mint? How can ‘mint green’ be palest green with shades of blue when the herb is nearly as dark as cucumber skin? How can that same ‘mint green’ be called ‘jade’ elsewhere, and ‘jade’ in turn stretch to cover ‘turquoise’?

1 comment:

  1. And yes, of course, then there's the aspect of never knowing whether one person even sees anything similar to the next. Just think red-green blindness, and apparently, some people see only variations of grey.

    For other curiosities on colours: