Monday, July 11, 2016

Orange The Color Or The Fruit

Relatively few languages have a basic term for the mixture of red and yellow. The color orange is synonymous with the citrus fruit which shares its name and hue. But do you know if the name for the fruit or the name for the color came first?

Given the exoticism of the orange fruit, you could be forgiven that the color came first as it naturally occurs independent of the fruit such as in sunsets or leaves in autumn. Orange actually comes from the Old French word for the citrus fruit - 'pomme d'orenge' - according to the Collins dictionary.

This in turn is thought have come from the Sanskrit word "nāranga" via Persian and Arabic. The use of orange as the specific description for a color is thought to have begun in the 1500s when the fruit began to regularly appear on English market stalls.

To add complication to our understanding of color, not all world languages have as many basic color terms as English. The association is actually not that strong. In Vietnam, the same word (cam) is used for both the color and the fruit, even though our oranges are, without a doubt, green from the outside.

It's interesting that oranges, not other fruits (say bananas), enjoy the privilege of having a color named after them (Tamara Troup's answer to If oranges are called oranges, why aren't bananas called yellows?). It's remarkable that this is observed in so many languages.

Orange the fruit came first. The word came into English either from Old French 'pomme d'orenge', or from the Spanish 'naranja' (with the subsequent transfer of the 'n' over to the indefinite article, as per 'apron' and 'adder', originally 'napron' and 'nadder'). The Spanish word is itself a modification of the Arabic 'naaranj' (cf. also Persian 'naarang'). Our color term thus derives from the name of the fruit, not the other way round; we also have apricot, peach, violet, lilac, maroon, indigo, burgundy, and so on, which show how productive this process of color naming is. The second part of the question assumes that all languages have a name for the color, which does not seem to be the case. According to work carried out by Berlin and Kay in the 1960s, most of the world's languages have far fewer basic color terms than English and other European languages do. Some make do with only two color names - equivalent perhaps to 'dark', and 'light' - but three- and five-color systems seem to be among the most common. A name for a mixture of red and yellow is actually pretty rare cross-linguistically. Presumably English didn't have a basic term for the hue before oranges started to hit the market stalls, though of course that doesn't mean that people couldn't distinguish orange from red, yellow, or any other color, and they could certainly have described orange using other basic color terms, just as speakers of languages which do not feature a basic term for orange can.

If you are looking for the perfect citrus for yourself or as a gift for a business associates, your family or friends? A quick visit to can solve all of your fresh gift giving adventures. We sell only the finest selections and the freshest citrus you can buy.

Presented By:
Sunburst Oranges
180 South “E” Street
Porterville, CA  93257

No comments:

Post a Comment