Redder than red

I guess the thing with natural red hair’s that it’s often more of a dull orange or red-brown colour but linguistically the naming varied. It seems in French, Russian, Irish, Polish, Ukrainian and Belarusian and to some extent, Catalan and Portuguese the word for red hair’s distinguished from red in general. (There might be some overlap in which at some point red-brown hair was called rouge acajou.)

But from personal experience, at least recently cheveux rouges pretty much means bright red hair. Actually it’s a colour so red it’s practically pink in some lighting. There are some people who do dye their hair with this colour. Plus I think with wool, though not always the case I get the impression of henna-dyed wool to be a dull orange colour.

(Some) madder-dyed wool being a nice red or pink. It seems parsimonious to say dyed wool can give a good idea of what some human hairs are like if dyed with madder. I still think if natural red hair’s often a dull orange or reddish brown colour, some madder-dyed wool seems like a nice dull pink. (Well if it were a bright red, it would be pink in some lighting.)

Japanese script

Both of them have been influenced by each other to varying degrees that some assume the Chinese did settle in Japan earlier, especially when it comes to aristocracy that Japan, like Vietnam and Korea should ought to be seen as a Chinese colony which was eventually reversed in the 20th century. Considering the use of Chinese characters in writing, Japanese does have peculiarities.

In fact, Japanese writing system not only allows for rounded characters but also characters used to represent foreign words and names (katakana). Mandarin uses Chinese characters all the way and perhaps other Chinese languages to a lesser extent. (Actually the same could and should be said of Farsi and Ottoman Turkish whenever they use Arabic script or Ukrainian using Cyrillic script.)

The best way of telling those apart’s that sometimes they use entirely different words to describe the same thing. Especially if you’re used to Latin script, you may take patience to notice the differences between Japanese and Chinese characters or anything else.

The semantic boundaries of colour terms

There was a study on the Japanese language with regards to its word for blue (ao) which also historically described things that were green. Actually English did something similar at some point or another. A good point of comparison is that dark grey furred mammals are often called blue. So is the greenish-blues which would have a specific name in other languages.

For another matter, red. Purple vegetables are called red, so is the dull orange-brown of mammalian fur. The red coats of some English hunters were called pink. German and Irish call some mountains blue, especially if they’re far away. Though this isn’t always the case, it seems in some early French dictionaries rouge and roux were already that differentiated.

Rouge being most red things (especially a brighter red, barring the robin, wood* and some vegetables) whereas roux often refers to dull-orange mammalian hair and what’s called the red moon. Roux was historically referred to as the colour between red and yellow, the original colour term for orange so to speak. Russian, Polish, Belarussian, Irish and Ukrainian languages likely do similar things.

So this is what I’ve gleaned over time when it comes to colour terms at all.

*If it was in Irish, it would be adhmad rua.

They are dogs

As to why some languages call dingoes wild dogs, don’t blame them if their point of reference seems as limiting as conflating red with yellow at some point or another. It’s like from going to websites in certain languages that seemingly their word for dingo is ‘wild dog’. To make matters worse, dingo came from a word that’s more or less equivalent to ‘Fido’ (owned dog) as the word for stray/feral dog would be warrigal.

(If I’m not mistaken, the Nufi word for wolf and jackal’s derived from the word for dog, which again could indicate that point of reference.)

It’s like if somebody considers dingoes separate from dogs (even if the former also get owned by seemingly negligent Aboriginal individuals) but the fact that they’re interfertile and dogs are perfectly capable of killing prey on their own, it might indicate a curious bifurcation of what’s practically the same thing. In Japan, they used to call wolves ‘mountain dogs’.

Makes me think in reality, either the line between dingoes, wolves and dogs are actually a lot blurrier or perhaps even if somebody considers dogs wolves they might still be separate in their minds even if sometimes those behaviours and ecologies can overlap. Entre chien et loup in French even if it’s used to mean the witching hour. (As if dogs and wolves are indistinguishable in the dark.)

The Dark Blond

Given European peoples’ hair darkens and lightens to varying degrees (sun bleaching, bleaching hair with honey or citric juice), as much as the semantics and words for dirty blond/light brown varies I have the feeling that those with dirty blond/light brown hair are one of the lucky ones in that their hair didn’t darken much.

(Curious why almost nobody calls it wine blond, given it doesn’t darken that badly.)

If I’m not mistaken, a good number of people do colour their hair a different colour and since that colour seems somewhere in the middle and can even appear kind of dull (to some), that I recall a forum with users talking about how and why such a hair colour gets a bad rap.

Right down to the unkind names. (Westerners do have a similar dilemma regarding their natural hair, not just with the wavy hair but also with the dark blond/light brown hair thing.) Though I highly suspect these might be pretty common in Germanic and Slavic speaking countries.

(Spain and Portugal might not be exempt though.) So far only Russian, French and Italian languages, to my knowledge, have a specific word to describe light brown/dark blond hair. It’s not necessarily that odd as I think a good number of Europeans do have that hair colour.

But it’s also highly stigmatised to the point where whilst some do dye it another colour, others keep it as it is. (Though it may be that they’re either more daring or more accepting of themselves or whatever.)

Westernised Japan

Though not to the same extent, I get the impression that a good number of Japanese and Japan in general might be somewhat more Westernised than one realises. To me, the red flag’s that Japanese language does have a word to describe red hair which even encompasses the dull orange variety. (Language contact, people.) Some may even get influenced by Western stereotypes of people with certain hair colours.

As far as I’ve been to Japanese websites (there are also Japanese people concerned about paedophilia). Maybe not as much as I made it out to be. But I still get the impression that Japan might be somewhat more Westernised than one realises even if it’s not greatly so compared to let’s say Hong Kong and Singapore. The fact that even the Japanese enjoy American programmes make me think they’re not entirely immune.

The more I realise from hanging out at Japanese websites, the more I think the Japanese are far from being that isolated.