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"Austin Blanton" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


> Might I ask for a little bit of advice? I am working on a language for a race of 
> cat-people, and I have done some research into how cats see colours, 
> light/shadow etc. I was wondering if you might be able to give me pointers based 
> around that idea? How else might vision impact language? Do you have any more 
> information on feline vision? 


As I understand it, cats have very good "motion sense" vision. You know, the kind of vision
that lets them see the particular minute twisting of a blade of grass caused by the movement 
of a small (and soon to be et) mouse all the way across the yard.

On the other hand, it also seems to me that they have some difficulties with judging distance.
Whenever cats are going to jump, they always do that "looking about and gauging the
distance" dance where they bob their heads this way and that, almost as if they're picking
reference points in space from which they will triangulate the leap trajectory.

Vision certainly impacts language at the most basic of levels. If a race of people has no
light vision the way we understand it, then that basically takes care of all vision related
lexical items, as well as all metaphors that involve seeing things. If they 'see' using another
sense, like smell, then naturally their olfactory world will supply a whole range of
interesting metaphors.

Among the Daine, females are color sighted (and most have in general a similar range of
color vision as Men). Males are generally monochromats. Their world is all shades of
grey, ameliorated (after the way of the World) by a deeper sense of, well, depth or clarity
of image in their daytime or bright vision. They also have sharp twilight vision and broad
night / dark vision that females lack. So naturally, when Daine girls go on and on about the 
hue of this or that flower, the boys really are totally clueless. Her world is dazzlingly colorful, 
his is depthfully shaded and at best, for a very few males, wanhuesome. These latter few can 
maybe see a very slight bit of washed-out red. Kind of like very old sepia toned photos.

(This, by the way, is an almost foolproof test to determine if a female is actually a
changeling (a male that has become female in appearance) -- ask her what color something
is! If she started out life as a monochromatic male, her response will not make sense to
normal females as it will involve depth and nuance of shading. If she says anything at all!
She may detect a trick and keep mum. A normal girl would just out and say indigo or
not quite chartreuse. Or whatever it is girls say when it comes to describing colors!)

For me, there are eight basic color regions: purple, blue, glas, green, viridarillo, yellow,
orange, red. Within those, there are a couple special subregions: indigo vs. purple and at the
other end, red vs. black-red. Orange is a bit dicey. When I look at n orange, it is clearly
orange; but when I look at a spectrum, the orange kind of disappears into a kind of rorangello.
Any of these can have brightness distinctions. I naturally get into a lot of trouble (with girls) 
when it comes to blues and greens and greens and yellows. For me, there's that third color in 
between, so when I try to use one or other of the standard names, I invariably get it wrong, 
thus raising the ire of the girl in question. That said, I totally swamped at least one girl when it 
came to the Arrange the Hues in their Correct Order game by getting a perfect score -- I just 
don't know what to call any of the hues! ;))

So, take a look at images of the visible spectrum and see what yu see! Take a look at what
they think cat vision looks like as well and consider the possibilities.

Padraic