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語言能改變你我眼中的色彩

來源:紐約時報 編輯:Kelly ?  VIP免費外教試聽課 |  可可官方微信:ikekenet

The human eye can physically perceive millions of colours. But we don't all recognise these colours in the same way. Some people can't see differences in colours – so called colour blindness – due to a defect or absence of the cells in the retina that are sensitive to high levels of light: the cones. But the distribution and density of these cells also varies across people with 'normal vision', causing us all to experience the same colour in slightly different ways.

人類的肉眼能感知上百萬種色彩,卻并非能一一辨別出來。有些人無法分辨色彩間的差異,俗稱色盲,因為他們的視網膜中缺乏一種對波長較長的光線十分敏感的視錐細胞。不過就算不是色盲,每個人看同一種顏色時也稍有區別,因為視錐細胞的分布和密度是因人而異的。
Besides our individual biological make up, colour perception is less about seeing what is actually out there and more about how our brain interprets colours to create something meaningful. The perception of colour mainly occurs inside our heads and so is subjective – and prone to personal experience.
除了這種個體生理上對顏色的修正,人類的色彩感知不僅僅是看清外部世界到底什么樣,更是關乎我們的大腦如何闡釋這些色彩,以對事物分門別類,賦予意義。色彩的概念主要出現在我們的腦海中,因而是主觀的,能為個人經驗所左右。
Take for instance people with synaesthesia, who are able to experience the perception of colour with letters and numbers. Synaesthesia is often described as a joining of the senses – where a person can see sounds or hear colours. But the colours they hear also differ from case to case.
以通感(神經科學中指一種感官刺激或認知途徑會自發引起另一種感知或認識的現象)為例。有通感的人,看見字母或數字時能感受到色彩。也經常有人將通感描述為連覺(感覺連接),也就是有的人可以看到聲音、聽到顏色。不過他們所聽到的顏色也是因個人而異。
Since the day we were born we have learnt to categorise objects, colours, emotions, and pretty much everything meaningful using language. And although our eyes can perceive thousands of colours, the way we communicate about colour – and the way we use colour in our everyday lives – means we have to carve this huge variety up into identifiable, meaningful categories. Painters and fashion experts, for example, use colour terminology to refer to and discriminate hues and shades that to all intents and purposes may all be described with one term by a non-expert.
從生下來那天起,人們就開始學習用語言給物體、顏色、情緒,幾乎所有有意義的事物分類。雖然我們的眼睛可以感知數以千計的顏色,但我們日常生活中使用語言、交流語言的方式,都意味著得把這一大堆顏色劃分出可辨認、有意義的類別。就像畫家和時尚達人用來指代和區分色調及明暗度的各種色彩術語,其實到了外行人那兒,可能就是同一個詞。

語言能改變你我眼中的色彩.jpg

Different languages and cultural groups also carve up the colour spectrum differently. Some languages like Dani, spoken in Papua New Guinea, and Bassa, spoken in Liberia and Sierra Leone, only have two terms, dark and light. Dark roughly translates as cool in those languages, and light as warm. So colours like black, blue, and green are glossed as cool colours, while lighter colours like white, red, orange and yellow are glossed as warm colours.

不同的語言和文化群體,劃分色譜也截然不同。一些語言,比如如巴布亞新幾內亞所說的丹尼語,利比里亞和塞拉利昂所說的巴薩語,顏色只有兩個詞,“暗”和“亮”。“暗”大致可譯為其他語言中的冷色調,“亮”為暖色調。所以黑、藍、綠等顏色可解釋為冷色,而白、紅、橙、黃等淺色調可解釋為暖色。
The Warlpiri people living in Australia's Northern Territory don't even have a term for the word "colour". For these and other such cultural groups, what we would call "colour" is described by a rich vocabulary referring to texture, physical sensation and functional purpose.
瓦爾皮里人生活在澳大利亞北部,這些土著的語言里甚至沒有“顏色”一詞。對于類似這種文化的人類群體而言,我們所謂的“顏色”,他們是用各種指代材質、身體感覺和功能目的的詞來描述。
Remarkably, most of the world's languages have five basic colour terms. Cultures as diverse as the Himba in the Namibian plains and the Berinmo in the lush rainforests of Papua New Guinea employ such five term systems. As well as dark, light, and red, these languages typically have a term for yellow, and a term that denotes both blue and green. That is,these languages do not have separate terms for "green" and "blue" but use one term to describe both colours, a sort of "grue".
值得注意的是,世界上大多數語言都有五個基本顏色術語。從納米比亞平原上的辛巴族,到巴布亞新幾內亞蒼翠繁茂的熱帶雨林中的伯因摩族,這些各種各樣的文化,其色彩體系都由五個詞組成。除了暗、亮、紅,這些語言通常都有一個表示黃色的詞,一個表示藍和綠的詞。也就是說,這些語言沒有單獨表示“綠”或“藍”的詞,而是用同一個詞來描述這兩種顏色,即一種“藍綠色”。
Historically, Welsh had a "grue" term, namely glas, as did Japanese and Chinese. Nowadays, in all these languages, the original grue term has been restricted to blue, and a separate green term is used. This is either developed from within the language – as is the case for Japanese – or through lexical borrowing, as is the case for Welsh. Russian, Greek, Turkish and many other languages also have two separate terms for blue – one referring exclusively to darker shades, and one referring to lighter shades.
歷史上,英國威爾士有一個表示“藍綠色”的詞,叫“glas”,日本和中國也有類似的詞(中國這個詞叫青色)。如今,這些語言中原本表示“藍綠色”的詞都只能表示藍色,而用另外的詞表示綠色。這要么是源自語言內部的變化發展,比如日本,要么是借用了外來詞,如威爾士。俄語、希臘語、土耳其語和許多其他語言,都有兩個不同的詞來形容藍色,一個專指深藍,一個指淺藍。
The way we perceive colours can also change during our lifetime. Greek speakers, who have two fundamental colour terms to describe light and dark blue("ghalazio" and "ble"), are more prone to see these two colours as more similar after living for long periods of time in the UK. There, these two colours are described in English by the same fundamental colour term: blue. This is because after long term everyday exposure to an English-speaking environment, the brain of native Greek speakers starts interpreting the colours "ghalazio" and "ble" as part of the same colour category.
人的一生中,對色彩的感知也會變化。說希臘語的人形容深藍和淺藍時有兩個基本色彩詞,“ghalazio”和“ble”,不過若是長期住在英國,就會覺得這兩個顏色趨于同色。因為在英語中,這兩個顏色都基于同一個顏色詞——藍色。長期生活在天天都講英語的大環境中,以希臘語為母語的人大腦就開始將深藍和淺藍歸納為同一種色彩。
But this isn't just something that happens with colour. In fact different languages can influence our perceptions in all areas of life. In our lab at Lancaster University we are investigating how the use of and exposure to different languages changes the way we perceive everyday objects. Ultimately, this happens because learning a new language is like giving our brain the ability to interpret the world differently – including the way we see and process colours.
事實上,語言的不同能影響到我們對生活中方方面面的感知,而不僅僅只有顏色。在英國蘭卡斯特大學的實驗室里,我們研究了使用和接觸不同的語言,如何改變人們感知日常物體的方式。最后證明,學習一門新語言,像是賦予了大腦一種重新闡釋世界的能力,包括我們如何看待和處理色彩。

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identifiable [ai'dentifaiəbl]

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adj. 可辨認的

 
perceive [pə'si:v]

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vt. 察覺,感覺,認知,理解

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subjective [səb'dʒektiv]

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adj. 主觀的
n. 主格,主觀事物

 
employ [im'plɔi]

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雇用,使用

 
prone [prəun]

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adj. 俯臥的,易于 ... 的,有 ... 傾向的

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sensitive ['sensitiv]

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adj. 敏感的,靈敏的,易受傷害的,感光的,善解人意的

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ultimately ['ʌltimitli]

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adv. 最后,最終

 
variety [və'raiəti]

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n. 多樣,種類,雜耍

 
density ['densiti]

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n. 密集,密度,透明度

 
restricted [ris'triktid]

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vt. 限制,約束 adj. 受限制的,有限的,保密的

 
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