Archive for WARNA DAN BAHASA

warna dan politik

Warna sebagai penunjuk jalan dalam politik
Warna merupakan perantara politik. Ketika pada malam pemilu balok-balok statistik
dengan warna tertentu mencuat di layar kaca, maka dalam hitungan detik kita tahu
bagaimana formasi kekuatan di parlemen yang akan datang. Apabila seorang politisi
tampil dengan switer tanpa lengan berwarna kuning, publik pun mahfum dari partai
mana politisi tersebut: Partai Demokrat Liberal (FDP). Dan jika sekjen SPD
mengklaim dalam kampanye bahwa pencampuran Hitam dan Kuning akan
menghasilkan warna yang terlalu abu-abu, maka semua tahu maksudnya: kedua
partai tidak mungkin bergabung.
Kita membaca dunia politik melalui warna. Warna merah, hitam, kuning, hijau adalah
pola orientasi yang mendasar dalam perpolitikan Jerman. Warna-warna itu menata
politik partai dan menandai posisi cara pandangnya (Weltanschauung). Dalam situasi
demokrasi media sekarang ini warna menjadi wadah untuk memvisualisasikan
banyak hal yang berada di luar bidang pengalaman keseharian kita. Hasil pemilu
menjadi jelas ketika ia ditampilkan sebagai irisan-irisan kue berwarna-warni.
Dibingkai dalam sebuah ambien penuh warna dengan warna utama yang khas,
gambar-gambar abstrak seperti organisasi partai tidak hanya bisa dikenali (lagi)
dengan cepat, tapi juga bisa segera dibedakan.
Situasi dalam persaingan kehidupan berdemokrasi mendorong para pelakunya untuk
terus mengasah citra penampilan mereka: mereka menampilkan diri ke dunia luar
dengan desain warna sendiri dan dengan cara itu mencoba mendapatkan perhatian
dan dukungan. Mereka mencoba memposisikan diri secara kasat mata sebagai aktor
dan dengan demikian, di tengah-tengah beragamnya tawaran lain, orang akan selalu
mengenal mereka. Hal ini tidak hanya terjadi melalui penciptaan latar-latar yang
relevan dengan publik, tapi juga melalui pakaian: siapa yang memakai dasi dengan
warna tertentu yang dijual partai sebagai asesoris, maka ia menunjukkan jati diri
partainya. Dalam konteks internal partai warna berfungsi sebagai penghubung. Pita
kunci yang berwarna-warni misalnya yang dibagi-bagikan pada kongres partai
menegaskan status kebersamaan politis – tanpa harus membahas isi program.
„Black is beautiful“, bunyi slogan Junge Union (Angkatan Muda-nya CDU/CSU), atau
„Rot ist Liebe“/Merah adalah Cinta, motto Angkatan Muda SPD. Slogan dan motto
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seperti ini menegaskan pentingnya penciptaan jati diri – sebuah bentuk dari
pemantapan diri.
Jadi, warna mereduksi kompleksitas praktek politik. Hal ini juga terlihat dalam bahasa
warna: para wartawan suka menggunakan gambaran-gambaran rumusan warna
untuk mengomentari kejadian-kejadian dan perkembangan-perkembangan politik.
Maka muncullah rumusan-rumusan seperti „Hijau kabur – Kuning subur“ yang
menjadi judul sebuah artikel di „Die Zeit“. Sementara di surat kabar „Westdeutsche
Allgemeine Zeitung“ pernah ditulis: „Orang-orang partai kuning matanya Hijau“.
Dalam bahasa warna perubahan-perubahan sistem kepartaian juga dijadikan topik
dan dikritik: ilmu tentang warna dalam politik disebut-sebut tidak lagi sejalan,
demikian yang sering kita dengar, karena kesatuan antara ideologi dan partai sudah
saling bertolak belakang. „Orang-orang partai merah (SPD) tidak lagi benar-benar
merah, Partai Hijau sudah mulai hilang hijaunya“, tulis surat kabar „Die Welt“.
Lalu yang muncul sekarang adalah citra yang mendua: di satu pihak warna masih
tetap digunakan sebagai motif orientasi mendasar dalam ruang politik. Di pihak lain
penggolongan warna sebagai simbol posisi politik setiap partai seperti yang umum
terjadi tidak lagi ketat seperti dulu. Seorang pengamat kampanye pemilu 2005
menggambarkan perkembangan ini sebagai berikut: “Ilmu tentang warna dalam
ranah politik (tampaknya) sudah tidak berlaku lagi, persis seperti pembagian antara
kelompok kanan dan kiri.“1 Kini telah muncul suatu situasi yang tak jelas yang
sebagian direspon (dan diperkuat) oleh partai dan ahli strategi marketing mereka
dengan menampilkan diri di masyarakat dengan warna-warna baru yang melengkapi
simbol warna yang digunakan selama ini. Makin kurang tendensi suatu partai untuk
menetapkan suatu warna tertentu, maka kiranya bisa dikalkulasikan, makin besar
pula prospek yang dimiliki suatu partai untuk mencapai dan mendapatkan suara dari
kelompok pemilih yang tidak berpegang pada politik tertentu yang kalangannya terus
meluas.
Sejarah menunjukkan bahwa penggunaan warna tertentu memang sudah sejak dulu
beranekaragam dan maknanya pun tidak pernah ditegaskan secara jelas. Posisi atau
sikap politik yang bertentangan dihubungkan dengan warna yang sama.
Penggunaan warna umumnya bisa dijelaskan sebagai campuran dari kejadiankejadian
praktis yang bersifat kebetulan, tradisi dan perhitungan. Hal ini
1 Erik Spiekermann, Gedeckte Stimmung, gedeckte Farben (Suasana yang Tersembunyi, Warna yang
Tersembunyi), dalam: Surat Kabar Frankfurter Rundschau tanggal 1-9-2005, hal. 12
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menunjukkan perjalanan politik dari setiap warna yang hendak digambarkan dalam
tulisan ini. Akan tetapi, sebelumnya perlu disinggung dulu beberapa garis-garis besar
yang melukiskan perubahan peran warna dalam sejarah politik.
Penggunaan warna dalam politik
Dalam perkembangan sejarahnya kita bisa menentukan tiga titik berat berbeda:
pertama-tama, warna berfungsi mengekspresikan dan menguatkan kekuasaan yang
ada. Selanjutnya, warna mendukung gerakan-gerakan politik baru dalam
perjuangannya menentang pemegang kekuasaan yang tradisional. Dan terakhir,
bagi kelompok-kelompok politik warna berfungsi sebagai alat promosi, misalnya
untuk mendapatkan suara pemilih yang pada gilirannya melegitimasi pelaksanaan
kekuasaan politik.
Untuk memahami makna warna di zaman Romawi purba hingga abad pertengahan,
ada faktor khusus yang harus diperhatikan: Berbeda dari sekarang, dulu zat warna
susah sekali didapat dan karenanya sangat mahal sehingga hanya orang-orang
kelas atas saja yang bisa memperolehnya. Jadi, dengan menggunakan sumber yang
jarang itu orang bisa memberikan alasan yang kuat atas haknya untuk berkuasa.
Hanya para pemuncak hirarkilah yang diperbolehkan mengenakan pakaian
berwarna; sebuah hak istimewa yang dijamin melalui peraturan tentang pemakaian
pakaian.2 Contoh yang terkenal untuk ini adalah mantel berwarna yang dikenakan
para ratu dan kaisar Romawi dan para penerusnya. Perlu bertahun-tahun untuk
membuat pakaian mewah seperti itu. Para menteri dan pejabat diizinkan menambah
strip merah tua di jubah mereka. Orang lain tidak diperbolehkan menggunakan
warna khusus ini, pelanggaran terhadapnya diancam hukuman mati.
Di abad pertengahan, warna yang terutama sekali diperuntukkan bagi kelas atas
adalah warna merah darah. Ia bukan hanya zat warna yang paling mahal, tapi juga
merupakan warna yang dihubungkan dengan kekuatan dan kekuasaan. Pertarungan
sosial antara bangsawan dengan rakyat biasa selalu berkisar tentang peraturanperaturan
tentang siapa yang boleh memakai jenis warna merah dan dalam bentuk
apa. Hak istimewa kaum bangsawan, diawali oleh berkurangnya kekuatan ekonomi,
2 Bandingkan Eva Heller, Wie Farben wirken. Farbpsychologie, Farbsymbolik, kreative Farbgestaltung
(Pengaruh warna. Psikologi warna, simbol warna, perancangan warna yang kreatif) Reibek bei
Hamburg 2004, hal. 167 dst dan Arnold Rabbow, dtv-Lexikon politischer Symbole A-Z, München 1970,
Artikel „Farbensymbolik“, hal. 76. Semua pernyataan lain tentang penggunaan warna dalam sejarah
didasari pada penjelasan kedua penulis ini.
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sedikit demi sedikit menyusut; akhirnya pada abad ke-18 mereka hanya boleh
memakai hak sepatu berwarna merah.3
Dengan demikian warna merah pun kehilangan status sebagai alat pembeda kelas
atas – dan lambat laun malah menjadi warna utama dari kelas bawah, jadi warna dari
protes sosial mereka dan akhirnya warna dari gerakan buruh. Perubahan ini
didukung pula oleh bentuk-bentuk produksi baru (misalnya oleh impor serangga
cochennil dari Amerika) yang membuat zat warna merah menjadi murah. Cita-cita
buruh di awal abad ke -19 adalah membentuk kelompok yang punya kekuatan politik.
Dari latar belakang inilah kemudian warna merah dan bendera merah yang terlihat
dengan jelas menjadi „alat pemandu massa“4 yang membentuk poros bagi
terbentuknya gerakan politik baru.
Mobilisasi massa tetap menjadi tema demokrasi di zaman berikutnya, termasuk di
era Republik Weimar. Pemerintahan yang tak stabil, pemilu yang baru menandai
wajah demokrasi. Kampanye umumnya dilakukan di jalan-jalan. Warna-warna
digunakan di plakat-plakat dan tiang-tiang di ruang publik; media yang menjadi
jembatan bagi partai untuk mencapai langsung konstituennya. Yang terkenal lebih
karena kesan negatifnya dalam hal ini adalah gerak jalan dengan pakaian seragam
untuk menunjukkan posisi politik mereka. Keberadaan „batalion coklat“ misalnya
tidak hanya berdampak kepada publik. Keseragaman warna juga membuat para
pesertanya „merasa memiliki keberanian yang kuat“: setiap pribadi melihat keinginan
mereka pada warna sama pada anggota lain. Sebuah kelompok kecil yang
berseragam kemeja hitam atau coklat terkesan lebih kuat lebih karena seragamnya
bukan karena jumlahnya.“5
Sejalan dengan perkembangan demokrasi melalui media pasca Perang Dunia II, arti
presentasi visual di jalan berkurang. Penyampaian politik lebih diorientasikan pada
media utama yang baru, yakni televisi (berwarna). Selain itu, hal baru lainnya adalah
bahwa dalam masyarakat media politik harus lebih kuat lagi menegaskan dirinya
sebagai salah satu tawaran di samping tawaran-tawaran lainnya di media. Ketua
Harian FDP, Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz, melukiskan hal ini sebagai berikut: „FDP
sekarang bukan hanya bersaing dengan partai-partai lain dalam rangka
mendapatkan perhatian pemilih dan simpatisan yang potensial, tapi juga dengan
3 Bandingkan E. Heller (cat. kaki 2), hal. 57 dst
4 A. Rabbow (cat. kaki 2), Artikel „Merah“, hal. 199
5 Ibid, Artikel „Braun“ (Coklat), hal. 48
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produk-produk iklan lain. Siapa yang tidak konsekuen mengkomunikasikan garisnya
secara terus-menerus, akan jatuh“6. Sejalan dengan perkembangan ini para pakar
pemasaran makin memiliki pengaruh terhadap pembentukan citra penampilan partai.
Warna-warna baru seperti oranye dan umbra, yang sejak beberapa waktu ini
menghiasi corporate design CDU dan CSU, digunakan dengan arahan agen-agen
periklanan profesional.
Karir politik masing-masing warna
Warna merah
Setelah selama berabad-abad warna merah menjadi simbol pemilik kekuasaan atau
kalangan atas, maka – seperti yang telah disebutkan sebelumnya – selambatlambatnya
pada abad ke-19 ia menjadi simbol sentral dari perlawanan sosial dan
gerakan-gerakan emansipatif. Arnold Rabbow, yang karyanya “Leksikon Simbolsimbol
Politis” terbitan 1970 masih tetap menjadi karya standard sampai hari ini,
mencirikan makna tersebut sebagai berikut: Warna merah, khususnya dalam bentuk
bendera merah yang umum kita lihat, mengalahkan semua simbol-simbol baru politik
lain dalam hal usia, makna dan daya iklannya. Merah adalah warna yang agresif. Ia
bercahaya, ia menyedot pandangan dengan kekuatan magis; ia menantang,
mempromosikan dan membuat orang mundur.“7
Emansipasi ditandai dengan munculnya warna di atas topi pet. Topi ini dipakai oleh
para Jakobi di masa Revolusi Perancis, merujuk pada tutup kepala merah yang
dipakai para terhukum yang dihukum mendayung di atas perahu (Galeerensträfling).
Bendera merah tercatat untuk pertama kalinya dipakai pada 1834, di saat terjadi
pemberontakan buruh industri sutra di Lyon. Selanjutnya “simbol politik yang modern
yang bagi Rabbow paling berhasil ini8” selalu dipakai dalam gerakan-gerakan protes
di seluruh negara Eropa. Mulai saat itu tidak ada warna politik lain yang dipahami
seperti itu secara internasional selain warna merah.
Bendera merah baru dipakai di Jerman di tahun revolusi 1848. Lambat laun bendera
ini menggantikan bendera hitam-merah-emas sebagai simbol emansipasi. Pada
1863 „Serikat Umum Pekerja Jerman“ menggunakan bendera tersebut sebagai
6 Diambil dari prakata untuk Corporate Design-Manual der FDP, disunting oleh Sekretariat Pusat FDP,
dalam: http://www.fdp.de/files/720/cd-manual_final.pdf, hal. 2
7 A. Rabbow (cat. kaki 2), Artikel „Rot“ (merah), hal. 198
8 Ibid., Artikel „Rote Fahne“ (Bendera Merah), hal. 201
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simbol partai; dengan tulisan „Kebebasan, Persamaan, Persaudaraan!“ bendera ini
kemudian menjadi „bendera tradisi Partai Sosial Demokrat (SPD)“.9 Warna ini lama
menjadi keterkejutan warga. Sampai sekitar 1900 instansi-instansi pemerintah
melakukan kebijakan menentang ditunjukkannya simbol-simbol merah“. Setelah
sosial-demokrat dikubur polisi memotong karangan bunga berwarna merah di
kuburan.
Bendera berwarna merah kembali dipakai khususnya oleh kelompok-kelompok
komunis setelah Perang Dunia Pertama. Sementara pengikut sosial-demokrat
berbalik pada kombinasi warna hitam-merah-emas, warna bendera negara, dan
hanya memakai banner merah dalam tubuh partai mereka, partai komunis turun ke
jalan-jalan dengan menggunakan bendera merah. Pawai mereka ini dilukiskan juga
oleh Adolf Hitler dalam bukunya „Mein Kampf“: „Lautan bendera merah, ikatan
kepala merah dan bunga merah membuat arak-arakan ini (di Lapangan Schloss
Berlin B.S) yang diikuti sekitar 120.000 orang menjadi pawai yang heboh. Saya
sendiri bisa merasakan dan memahami betapa mudahnya sang putra bangsa tunduk
di bawah sihir sugestif pawai yang berpengaruh besar seperti ini.“10 Bukan hanya
dampak ini yang, menurut Rabbow, membuat Hitler terdorong untuk menggunakan
warna merah untuk propaganda nasional-sosialistis.Tapi ia juga menghubungkan
warna ini dengan perhitungan strategis guna mendapatkan dukungan dari pekerja.
Setelah Perang Dunia Kedua warna merah di satu pihak menjadi warna yang bisa
ditemukan di mana-mana, namun di lain pihak ia menjadi warna yang digunakan
secara sangat mencolok. Di Republik Demokratik Jerman banner merah menjadi
bagian dari kehidupan sehari-hari, termasuk di luar kegiatan akbar politik.
Sebaliknya, di Republik Federal Jerman warna merah menjadi beban akibat sejarah
NAZI di Jerman dan partai komunis yang ada sekarang. Dalam sebuah kongres SPD
pada 1953 sempat dikerahkan seratus bendera merah – yang membuat partai ini
mendapatkan berita negatif. Di tingkat pimpinan partai ada kekhawatiran bahwa
insiden itu akan membuat orang menghubungkan SPD dengan komunisme. Oleh
karena itulah, sejak tahun 60-an hanya bendera tradisi saja yang ditunjukkan di
kongres-kongres partai.11
9 Pers Release SPD
10 Dikutip berdasarkan A. Rabbow (cat. kaki2), Artikel „Rot“, hal. 200
11 Berdasarkan pemberitahuan pers SPD
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Sejak saat itu dalam menampilkan dirinya ke luar SPD hanya menggunakan warna
merah pada momen tertentu. Penggunaan yang paling mencolok terlihat pada
plakat-plakat pemilu. Warna merah seringkali hanya pada logo yang diterapkan
1989, yakni sebuah kuadrat dengan huruf-huruf SPD berwarna putih. Dalam
kampanye pemilihan legislatif 2005 juga jarang terlihat warna merah; Sebuah
keadaan yang membuat munculnya beberapa komentar kritis yang mencoba
menguhubungkan antara pemilihan warna dengan ideologi. Prof. Henning
Wagenbreth, seorang pakar komunikasi visual di Berlin, menulis komentarnya
tentang plakat pemilu SPD tersebut sebagai berikut: „Bahkan warna merah, yang
dilihat dari aspek artistiknya adalah warna yang paling berpengaruh dalam spektrum
politik, telah tereduksi menjadi sangat minim. Apakah ditinggalkannya warna merah
merupakan sebuah keputusan kreatif atau juga programis?“12
Keterkaitan antara retorika warna dan desain warna ditunjukkan dengan baik oleh
penampilan partai kiri „Die Linke. PDS“ dalam kampanye pemilu legislatif 2005. Pada
tataran retorika politik misalnya kandidat langsung dari Frankfurt, Wolfgang Gehrcke,
mengiklankan: „Yang merah dalam kampanye kali ini hanyalah partai kiri. Dan semua
partai lainnya pucat.“13 Sementara dalam plakat-plakat pemilu hampir tak ditemukan
warna merah, tapi mereka – demikian pendapat seorang desainer – didesain dalam
berbagai „warna cerah“ yang (mencontek) „estetika supermarket yang lucu berisi
label harga, sticker dan merek dengan warna tertentu; sebuah gabungan warna yang
indah.“14 Dengan desain warna-warni ini, demikian interpretasinya, partai membuka
diri pada kelompok-kelompok sasaran yang alergi dengan warna merah.
Di luar dari statusnya sebagai simbol politik, warna merah sampai sekarang masih
tetap dipakai sebagai semata-mata warna penanda oleh partai lain. FDP misalnya
banyak menggunakan warna ini pada plakat mereka hingga tahun 60-an. Dan tulisan
CDU sejak dulu dibuat dalam warna merah. Menurut analis pemasaran, huruf-huruf
berwarna merah ini telah menjadi tanda merek yang tetap.
Warna hitam
Warna hitam juga punya tradisi yang lama dalam panggung politik. Berbagai aktor
yang menggunakan warna ini dan yang hanya disebutkan sebagian dalam tulisan ini
12 Henning Wagenbreth, Mata ini tak bisa berbohong, dalam: Surat kabar Berlin tanggal 14.9.2005,
hal. 6
13 Dikutip dari Friedericke Tinnappel, Die Farbe Rot (Warna Merah), dalam: Surat kabar Frankfurter
Rundschau tanggal 19-9-2005, hal. 12
14 E. Spiekermann (cat. kaki 1)
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menunjukkan betapa beraneka ragamnya posisi dan sikap yang terhubung dengan
warna ini. Di abad pertengahan, di masa kealiman kelam, warna hitam adalah warna
yang dominan di istana Spanyol. Pada awal zaman baru warna hitam juga menjadi
warna pakaian yang disukai oleh bangsawan Eropa. Pada saat yang sama warna
hitam, khususnya bintang hitam, menjadi simbol anarkisme.
Di awal abad 20 terdapat apa yang disebut dengan kemeja hitam, yakni anggota
gerakan fasis, yang pertama kali berpawai dengan seragam ini pada 1919 di Italia
dalam rangka melawan kelompok-kelompok sosialis dengan kekerasan dan berani
mati. Mungkin yang menarik dalam hal ini adalah strategi bahwa dengan seragam ini
individu tampil sebagai orang yang sama. Jadi, kesan yang ingin ditimbulkan adalah
semua peserta menjadi satu kesatuan dalam kebersamaan, terlepas dari perbedaan
kelas. Taktik jitu yang digunakan di sini adalah bahwa seperti halnya kasus kemeja
coklat di Jerman, pakaian kebesaran para pengikut gerakan nasional-sosialis (NAZI),
penggunaan warna tertentu tidak selalu dihubungkan dengan pengimanan terhadap
konsep gerakan karena kemeja dengan warna-warna ini adalah bagian dari pakaian
yang biasa dipakai. Inilah sebuah contoh untuk suatu pemuatan politis subversif
yang pintar dari sebuah warna yang dipakai sehari-hari.
Gambar: papan warna yang digunakan partai-partai politik Jerman untuk
menampilkan dirinya:
CDU SPD FDP Bündnis ‚90/
DIE GRÜNEN
DIE
LINKE.PDS
Oranye,
Merah dan
Putih
„Umbra“,
Merah dan
Putih
Kuning dan
Biru
Hijau, Kuning,
Biru dan Putih
Merah, Biru
dan Putih
Sumber: http://www.guillemets.de
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Apabila saat ini dalam ungkapan politik sehari-hari sering didengar istilah „kelompok
hitam“, maka secara umum yang dimaksud adalah kelompok konservatif dan
konkritnya anggota CDU atau simpatisannya. Berbeda dari ciri-ciri warna dari partaipartai
lainnya hal istimewa pada kasus CDU ini adalah bahwa bukan mereka sendiri
yang memilih warna hitam tersebut, melainkan lawan politik mereka yang
memberikannya. Mengingat konservatisme juga merekrut orang-orang dari kalangan
klerik dan kristen, maka para pengusung mereka dihubungkan dengan jubah para
pendeta; pakaian hitam khususnya dipakai para pendeta protestan.
Sementara warna hitam dalam corporate design CDU hampir tidak punya peran,
organisasi pemuda partai ini, Junge Union (JU), mulai membangun simbol dari warna
tersebut. Pada 2004 mereka membuat kampanye besar dengan slogan “Black is
beautiful”. Slogan ini terus menjadi alat promosi sejak akhir tahun 60-an, ia menjadi
“rumus” yang merembes bagi presentasi diri. Kampanye ini, demikian disebut-sebut,
bertujuan untuk menghasilkan „semacam ikatan bersama” yang mampu mengatasi
perbedaan yang hingga saat ini sangat kuat terlihat dalam penampilan DPW ke luar.
Tujuannya adalah “Dengan penampilan diri yang terarah dan seragam dalam
menghadapi pemilih” dan “menciptakan citra yang mantap”.15
Yang mencolok pada kampanye yang juga dicoba oleh partai-partai lain ini adalah
adanya tuntutan luas bahwa dengan simbol “black” dan barang-barang promosi
warna hitam lainnya diharapkan pengalaman (politik) yang luas bisa didapat.
“BLACK” diharapkan bisa memberikan pengalaman hidup”16 – dengan segala
macam artikel, mulai dari cangkir berrwarna hitam, T-Shirts hingga lolipop dan telpon
genggam.
Selain itu, kampanye ini menunjukkan betapa sulitnya berhubungan dengan berbagai
tradisi dan makna warna untuk pada gilirannya mendapatkan makna tersendiri dari
pemilihan warna tertentu. Untuk warna hitam ini misalnya, ada yang menyebut
“simbol sangat tua kristen yakni penebusan dan penderitaan Yesus”. Karena
“Bukankah untuk sebuah partai kristen tidak ada lagi warna yang lebih tepat daripada
hitam?” Bagaimanapun juga, warna hitam tidak melulu berarti kesedihan dan
depresi, tapi juga kekuatan dan daya.“17 Di sini orang merujuk pada simbol-simbol
15 Stefan Ewert, Black is Black! Atau “Wir Schwarzen müssen zusammenhalten” (Kita orang-orang
CDU harus bersatu), dalam: Suplemen „black“ untuk majalah JU „Die Entscheidung“, 52 (2004), hal. 7
16 Pers release Junge Union tentang latar belakang kampanye, hal. 7
17 S. Ewert (Cat. kaki 15), hal. 11
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15 Mai 2006
10
dari mulut ke mulut – tanpa mempertanyakan bagaimana kecocokan berbagai
asosiasi yang ada menyangkut warna tersebut.
Warna kuning
Kalau di budaya lain warna kuning memiliki makna positif dan karenanya digunakan
oleh penguasa sebagai warna negara – contohnya kaisar China menghiasi pakaian
kebesarannya dengan warna ini –, maka di Eropa warna ini dihubungkan dengan
kelompok-kelompok yang secara sosial terpinggirkan dan terbuang. Dulu pelacur
harus memakai tutup kepala berwarna kuning, perempuan yang memiliki anak di luar
nikah harus berpakaian kuning, orang Yahudi topi kuning atau penanda-penanda
berwarna kuning lainnya.
Selain itu warna kuning juga merupakan „warna para pengkhianat“.18 Warna ini baru
memiliki makna di Jerman ketika di pemerintahan kekaisaran dan di Republik
Weimar beberapa orang mencoba untuk mendeskreditkan apa yang disebut serikat
pekerja sebagai kelompok kuning.19 Yang dimaksud adalah organisasi-organisasi
yang menghendaki adanya kerja sama antara pihak pemberi kerja dan pekerja. Oleh
karena itu organisasi ini diserang oleh serikat-serikat pekerja yang berorientasi
sosialis dan kemudian juga disebut sebagai “pelindung kapitalis” oleh Joseph
Goebbels.
Bahwa hingga kini di Jerman penganut paham liberal masih diidentifikasikan dengan
warna kuning, itu ada kaitannya dengan pemilihan anggota parlemen negara bagian
Baden-Württemberg pada 1972. Setelah dalam kampanye-kampanye sebelumnya
warna oranye menjadi pilihan, pada masa kampanye selanjutnya dipilih kombinasi
warna Biru-Kuning sebagai warna sinyal oleh sebuah agen periklanan yang dikontrak
partai. Hasilnya begitu memuaskan sehingga kombinasi warna tersebut juga dipakai
dalam kampanye pemilu legislatif tingkat nasional di tahun yang sama. Hingga saat
ini warna ini masih menghiasi logo dan tampilan iklan partai liberal.
Keputusan pemilihan warna tersebut pada 1972 itu dijelaskan secara resmi oleh
partai liberal: “Mengapa justru pilihan warna jatuh pada kombinasi biru-kuning,
sebenarnya tak ada alasan tertentu untuk itu karena dalam penelitian-penelitian yang
ada di sini kombinasi warna ini justru tidak memiliki nilai-nilai yang menonjol yang
18 E. Heller (cat. kaki 2), hal. 141
19 A. rabbow (cat. kaki 2), Artikel „Gelb“, hal. 101
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15 Mai 2006
11
membuatnya harus dipilih.”20 Di sini menjadi jelas bahwa kriteria yang sebenarnya
terhadap keputusan tersebut tidak benar-benar bisa atau harus disebutkan. Ini bisa
ditafsirkan sebagai indikator bahwa pemilihan kombinasi tersebut bersifat kebetulan
dan secara acak. Namun, dari pengalaman yang diperoleh ketika mencari jawaban
atas pertanyaan tersebut tampak bahwa dalam banyak kasus di partai-partai dan
yayasan-yayasan yang berafiliasi dengan partai memang tidak ada pengetahuan
yang pasti dan yang bisa diakses umum menyangkut keputusan tentang penentuan
citra partai melalui warna tertentu. Paling mungkin orang dirujuk pada saksi mata,
dalam konteks FDP misalnya pada seorang mantan anggota Komisi Kampanye di
Baden-Württemberg yang menyebutkan, kombinasi biru-kuning ini dianggap “cukup
atraktif”.
Warna biru
Adalah keistimewaan dunia perpolitikan Jerman bahwa sebuah partai liberal dicirikan
dengan warna kuning. Di negara-negara Eropa lainnya partai-partai liberal lebih
mengidentifikasikan dirinya dengan warna biru, misalnya partai sosial-liberal di
Belanda atau nasional-liberal di Austria. Namun demikian, di Inggris Raya dan
negara-negara lain partai konservatif juga diasosiasikan dengan warna biru.
Walaupun biru bisa dikatakan warna yang paling digandrungi orang Jerman, sampai
hari tidak ada partai yang diidentifikasikan lewat warna ini. Namun ia sering
digunakan sebagai warna latar belakang atau pendamping. Plakat pemilu dan brosur
SPD dan CDU misalnya memakai warna biru sebagai latar belakangnya untuk waktu
yang lama. Dan apabila ada undangan konferensi pers ke kontor pusat CDU, para
petinggi partai berdiri di depan latar belakang yang berwarna biru.
Warna biru juga memainkan peran dalam logo CSU, ia menunjukkan kombinasi
warna hijau dan biru. Penjelasan atas kombinasi ini adalah bahwa kombinasi ini
menggabungkan dua warna yang merepresentasikan di wilayah besar di tanah
Bavaria. Warna hijau berarti wilayah Frankonia sebelah utara, biru melambangkan
bagian selatan Bavaria. Selain itu, warna biru juga dikenal sebagai warna
perdamaian internasional, misalnya pada bendera PBB dan Uni Eropa.
Warna hijau
20 Teks tentang pertanyaan „Mengapa Biru-Kuning?“ bisa dilihat di Frequently Asked Questions,
dalam: http://www.fdp-bundesverband.de; dalam teks ini juga bisa ditemukan pendapat media.
Sumber: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 20/2006
15 Mai 2006
12
Tidak ada hubungan yang paling nyata terlihat antara maksud politik dan warna
partai seperti yang dinyatakan warna hijau: hijau adalah warna tumbuhan dan
melambangkan alam. Pada akhir tahun 70-an, di tengah-tengah berbagai
pergerakan sosial di Jerman, „Partai Hijau“ menonjolkan diri dengan keterlibatan aktif
mereka dalam perlindungan alam dan lingkungan. Pada saat itu terbentuk prakarsa
warga atau LSM-LSM di berbagai tempat dengan nama seperti „Grüne Liste
Umweltschutz“ (Daftar Hijau Pelestarian Lingkungan). Akhirnya pada 1980 didirikan
„Partai Hijau“. Partai ini menjadikan organisasi lingkungan „Greenpeace“ sebagai
contohnya yang sejak 1971 menyatukan aktivis perdamaian dan lingkungan.
Sementara partai-partai lain pada kampanye 2005 bereksperimen dengan warna,
Partai Bündnis 90/Die Grünen tetap berkonsentrasi pada warna tradisional mereka.
Pada kongres partai sebelum Pemilu seluruh panggung sampai lampu neon yang
dipasang di belakang mimbar dihiasi warna hijau.
Di negara lain partai-partai khususnya memakai warna hijau apabila warna tersebut
ada dalam warna nasional. Pada saat yang sama warna hijau adalah warna yang
digunakan oleh kelompok-kelompok politik yang berorientasi regional. Hal ini muncul
dari tradisi yang disesuaikan sejak awal zaman baru dalam pergerakan republikan:
warna hijau dipahami sebagai warna kebebasan, sebagai simbol atas kebebasan
yang diinginkan atau diraih dari kekuasaan asing. Garis-garis hijau dalam bendera
nasional Italia misalnya memiliki latar belakang ini. Di Irlandia warna hijau
dihubungkan dengan kondisi geografis „pulau hijau“; hijau melukiskan keinginan
orang-orang katolik akan kemerdekaan. Warna lawan mereka, kelompok protestan di
Irlandia, hingga saat ini adalah oranye.
Oranye
Oranye adalah warna yang paling penting yang muncul di panggung politik Eropa di
tahun-tahun belakangan ini. Warna ini tidak punya beban sejarah dan dengan
demikian terbebas dari ikatan-ikatan aliran perjuangan-perjuangan politik klasik. Jadi,
oranye dipilih sebagai warna aksentuasi dalam menampilkan diri keluar. Artinya, para
pemilih atau pelakunya mengikuti trend dalam dunia periklanan yang menampilkan
warna ini dalam berbagai bidang, misalnya citra tampilan Zweites Deutsches
Fernsehen (Televisi Programa 2 Jerman) yang didesain baru dengan warna oranye.
Oranye dipakai sebagai warna pedoman CDU pada kampanye pemilu parlemen
Eropa. Saat ini bendera-bendera oranye berkibar di depan Gedung KonradSumber:
Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 20/2006
15 Mai 2006
13
Adenauer. Brosur dan pena juga dibuat dawalam warna ini. Garis vertikal – yang
membelah logo CDU – yang dulu berwarna abu-abu pada mimbar tempat para wakil
partai berdiri di saat konferensi pers juga telah diganti dengan warna oranye. Dan
para pembantu CDU untuk pemilu dilengkapi dengan T-shirts oranye.
Dalam sebuah brosur yang dikeluarkan sekretariat pusat CDU alasan pemilihan
desain warna yang baru ini adalah: „Oranye sebagai warna penekanan di satu sisi
memungkinkan untuk tampil beda dalam persaingan partai dan di sisi lain juga
karena warna tersebut secara emosional lebih komunikatif. Warna oranye
menguatkan perhatian dan mendukung dampak komunikatif.“21 Ketika
memperkenalkan program kampanye 2005 sekjen CDU Volker Kauder menjelaskan
bahwa warna oranye melambangkan „perspektif, kebangkitan dan harapan“. Dalam
berbagai laporan media isi dari keterbukaan dan sifat acak dari profil gambar ini
banyak dikritik.22
Selain partai rakyat yang sudah mapan seperti CDU, aktor-aktor politik baru juga
mencoba memanfaatkan warna oranye untuk partainya, misalnya aliansi „Zukunft
Österreich“ di Austria, sebuah organisasi yang didirikan 2005 di bawah pimpinan
mantan politisi liberal-nasionalis, Jörg Haider. Pemilihan warna ini dijelaskan oleh
manajer kampanye Gernot Rumpold sebagai berikut: „Para pemilih tak ingin lagi
diikat, mereka ingin merasa nyaman. Karena itulah oranye sangat ideal untuk simbol
partai. Ia melambangkan liburan, matahari dan energi.“23
Di samping pertimbangan-pertimbangan dari aspek psikologi warna tersebut di atas
terdapat juga argumen-argumen politis yang eksplisit terhadap warna oranye. Ini
misalnya bisa dilihat pada anggota pendiri „Wahlalternative Arbeit und soziale
Gerechtigkeit (WASG) yang untuk pertama kalinya muncul pada pemilihan anggota
parlemen negara bagian di Nordrhein-Westfalen. Di satu pihak ada yang menjawab
bahwa pemilihan warna oranye berkaitan dengan fakta bahwa warna yang lebih
cocok untuk organisasi mereka, yakni merah, sudah terpakai. Di pihak lain
disebutkan bahwa dalam warna oranye itu ada kenangan akan tradisi dari sebuah
21 Sekretariat Pusat CDU, Unsur-unsur Dasar Citra Tampilan CDU, Februari 2004, hal. 4, lihat juga
http://www.ci.cdu.de
22 Bandingkan contohnya dengan Matthias Heine, Farbe der Stunde, dalam: Surat kabar Die Welt
tanggal 17-8-2005, hal. 16, atau Clemens Nieddenthal, Ein Mann sieht orange, dalam: Die
Tageszeitung tanggal 6-4-2005, hal. 14
23 Dikutip berdasarkan: Haiders Mann für die Orange, dalam: Der Standard tanggal 3-5-2005
Sumber: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 20/2006
15 Mai 2006
14
politik reformasi tertentu yang pernah dijalankan SPD di tahun 70-an yang ketika itu
menggabungkan warna merah-oranye.
Sejak „revolusi oranye“ di Ukraina menjadi bahan pembicaraan masyarakat dunia,
warna ini makin diinterpretasikan sebagai lambang gerakan protes mendukung
demokrasi. Anggota WASG misalnya mengatakan bahwa dengan pemilihan warna
oranye mereka merasa terhubung dengan kekuatan reformasi seperti di Ukraina. Ini
mengindikasikan bahwa warna dalam masyarakat nasional bisa dipolitisir melalui
kejadian-kejadian di negara lain. Inilah sebuah fenomena internasionalisasi politik.
Bahwa budaya warna politik melewati batas-batas negara, itu terlihat di musim semi
2006 di saat kampanye Republik Ceko. Sebelum pemilu legislatif kedua partai besar
memilih warna oranye. Partai sosial-demokrat CSSD yang berkuasa, yang dalam
logonya biasanya tampak bunga mawar merah, memilih warna oranye dalam
penampilan mereka. Partai konservatif ODS yang menjadi oposisi menambah warna
biru yang menjadi warna partai meereka dengan oranye. Komentar di media
menyebutkan bahwa masing-masing partai merujuk pada perkembanganperkembangan
politik yang terjadi di Ukraina dan juga di Jerman.24 Disebutkan pula
adanya keterlibatan agensi-agensi periklanan barat sebagai konsultan kampanye
yang memberikan pengaruh pada perkembangan tersebut.
Umbra (Coklat Terang)
Warna ini adalah warna lain yang digunakan dalam panggung politik aktual. Untuk
jangka waktu yang lama SPD memakai warna biru sebagai warna latar belakang
atau warna pendamping. Kemudian sejak corporate design dirombak lagi, tepatnya
sebelum pemilu legislatif tingkat nasional 2005, digunakan warna coklat terang. Sisisisi
panggung pada saat konferensi pers, brosur, manifest pemilu atau plakat pemilu
muncul dalam warna coklat terang (umbra). Ketika memperkenalkan warna ini
dijelaskan bahwa pemilihannya didasari pada pengetahuan ilmiah yang
menyebutkan warna biru cenderung bersifat dingin dan warna coklat terang lebih
bisa mentransportasikan pernyataan-pernyataan partai. Sayangnya penelitian ilmiah
itu tidak bisa diakses publik.
24 Bandingkan Die Farbe Orange auch im tschechischen Wahlkampf, dalam: der Standard tanggal 30-
1-2006
Sumber: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 20/2006
15 Mai 2006
15
Mirip dengan pemakaian warna oranye di CDU, warna tanah coklat terang ini juga
diterima secara kritis. Yang menarik dalam kedua kasus tersebut adalah bahwa
alasan estetis atas pemilihan warna yang diutarakan kedua partai sangat kuat unsur
politisnya. Kedua partai menghubungkan antara keistimewaan masing-masing warna
dengan perilaku politik partai. Di “Financial Times Deutschland” disebutkan misalnya:
“Agenda 2010, Hartz IV, belalang dan Franz Müntefering, itu semua berwarna coklat
terang, tidak berwarna merah, kan?”25
Sementara partai menganggap warna hanya sebagai masalah marketing, para
komentator melihat pemilihan warna oleh partai sebagai raster/pola untuk
menjadikan keadaan partai politik yang tidak mantap itu sebagai tema komentar
mereka. Artinya, warna yang bagi partai berfungsi sebagai media, di mata
komentator ia adalah pesan. Bisa dikatakan dalam kritik ini dapat kita temukan
kebutuhan publik: warna masih melambangkan orientasi politik. Apapun rupanya,
warna-warna baru yang muncul dalam dunia politik sekarang tetaplah penunjuk jalan
– walaupun tidak lagi sebagai informasi tentang aliran-aliran ideologi tertentu yang
dikenal selama ini, melainkan sebagai media untuk melihat ke dalam perkembangan
demokrasi partai dan komunikasi politik.
25 Kai Beller, Wahlkampf-Tagebuch: Die Zukunft ist Umbra (Buku Harian Kampanye: Masa Depan
berwarna coklat terang), dalam: http://www.ftd.de/me/cl/13719

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BASIC COLORS AND METAPHORS

ABSTRACT: The paper presents a short a study on etymology of words for
basic colors in Vietnamese. It is shown that lexicon of basic colors was derived
mainly through metaphor, which results from observation of a phenomenon, an
object, an act, or a living creature, and its associated or defining features or
characteristics. The process of metaphoring could be undertaken over a period
of time in the past by speakers of many different languages or dialects, that
eventually evolved and merged into the Vietnamese language, modified
through quốc-ngữ codification using Latin alphabet.
***
For a long time, research in the field of linguistic origins, specifically applied
to the Vietnamese language, has been based almost exclusively on the Treeand-
Branch model, which normally is associated with, or results in the
hypothesis of loan words or lexical borrowing applied to cognates between any
two different languages that may, customarily, share the same branch or tree in
language grouping.
Working from the old folklore about the union of Âu Cơ & Lạc Long Quân and
the 18 reigns of King Hùng Vương, Nguyen [1] has developed a new theory on
the origin of the Vietnamese and their language, and demonstrated through
many case examples, using historical, cultural and linguistic data among others,
that Vietnamese is a historical and evolutionary merger of many languages and
dialects. It has a Mon-Khmer substratum mixed with Thai, Munda, Polynesian
and Negrito, superimposed and interwoven with strata of the ancient Bai Yue
(Bách Việt) groups in Southern China, including most notably ancient tongues
in Zhuang, Guangdong, Fujian, Wu (Shanghai-Zhejiang), Hainan, and
reinforced by the Hakka and Miao-Yao (Hmong-Mien) combination (see also
[14] and [15]). The theory is based on a model, tentatively called the Tree-and-
Soil model, whereby most of the lexicon hitherto considered as loan words,
especially in the long past, could be considered to come from languages and
dialects that contributed to evolutionary formation of Vietnamese. It follows
naturally that lexical borrowing would be relegated to a second-order issue. In
the following, this important feature of the theory will be further examined
through investigation of basic colors, in the Vietnamese language, with a view
to getting a better understanding of the mechanics of lexical merger,
particularly through identification of shared metaphors, among different
1
languages or dialects in the formative centuries or millennia, before a singular
and unified language came into being.
Word generation by metaphor
Consider first, some features of lexical generation by metaphor, through
examples surrounding the words “Month” and “Moon”. In many languages, the
word describing the ‘Moon’ is often paired with that meaning ‘Month’, since
‘month’ was conceived very early as one basic cycle of the Moon. For
example: [yue] and [yue] (Chinese), [mah] and [mah] (Persian), [là] and [là]
(Burmese), [bulan] and [bulan] (Malay), [vula] and [vula] (Fijian), [mahina]
and [mahina] (Tongan), [masina] and [masina] (Samoan), [mececev: moon] and
[mesec: month] (Serbo-Croatian), [maan: moon] and [maand: month] (Dutch),
[mane: moon] and [maned: month] (Danish), etc.
In the Vietnamese language, the word for ‘Moon’ came from one compositional
group: Trăng (or ‘blăng’ [2] – similar to ‘Bulan’ in Malay, or ‘tlăng’ in Mường),
and for ‘Month’, from another group: Tháng – compared with: [Thang] in
Fujian, [Căn] for Moon and [Bilan] for Month, in the Champa language [10];
‘La Lune’ (Moon) and ‘Le Mois’ (Month), in French. That is, Month and Moon
are not represented by the same word, in Vietnamese, Chamic, and French. On
examination of neighboring languages, it can be seen that in Vietnamese, Trăng
(Moon) has a cognate ‘Bulan’ in Malay, or ‘tlăng’ in Mường, whereas Tháng
(Month) was most likely derived, as a combination, from Mường [khảng] and
Fujian [Thang] meaning ‘month’ and ‘rising moon’, respectively. Tháng could
also come straight from a Thai word [thaawn], meaning “the moon”. This
would indicate that, metaphorical word pairs in Vietnamese, like French, may
have elements coming from different tongues, both constituting the language as
a whole.
Another word that can be used to illustrate both lexical generation by metaphor
and its complexity is “Kiều”, as in “kiều bào” (expatriates) or “Việt
kiều” (overseas Vietnamese), customarily considered as Sino-Vietnamese in
origin. First “kiều” shares common sound with [kiu] or [k’ieu] in the Hakka
dialect, which in turn is equivalent to [kou]
口 in Mandarin, following the “[iu]-
to-[ou]” phoneme conversion rule among Chinese-BaiYue dialects, as detailed
in [1]. [Kou] is “khẩu” in Vietnamese meaning “mouth” or “Person”. Under
Nôm, khẩu is Miệng or Mồm. The metaphor used here is that “Mouth”
represents “person”, and examples will include: Hộ Khẩu meaning Household
Register listing the names of all persons living in a house; “Nhà này có 3 miệng
ăn” i.e. This household has 3 mouths (persons). Kiều as in kiều bào, denoting a
person residing in a foreign country, is also pronounced similarly as [kiau] in
2
Hakka, and [qiao]
僑 in Mandarin. It is written as 僑 akin to [qiao] 橋
, word for
“bridge”, also called “kiều” or “cầu” (“[iu]-to-[ou]” phoneme conversion), as if
an expatriate was originally a native of one tribe, living in another tribe, as
commonly separated by a bridge.
A word that would best illustrate contribution of ethnic dialects to Vietnamese,
by way of metaphor, is “Peanut” known in Vietnamese as “Lạc” or “đậu
phộng”. “Lạc” and “đậu phộng”, interestingly may appear in different
“forms” but conform to a single metaphor, though under different dialects.
Other names for “Peanut” include “Groundnut” and “Earthnut”, which point to
a metaphor in the English language, denoting that the Nut (or pea) is grown in
the ground or earth, intermingled with, and connected to roots of the plant
(Arachis hypogaea). In the Muong dialect, peanut is also called [lac] like
Vietnamese (northern), but without the nặng accent [11]. Whereas in the Tay-
Nung dialect, which is related to the Zhuang dialect in GuangXi [12], the word
for “Root” is merely “Lạc” [13], identical to Vietnamese “Lạc” for Peanut.
“Đậu phộng” is a term of the southern dialect, also used to denote “peanut”.
“Đậu” means Pea, and “phộng” is a quốc-ngữ phonetic transcription of [pông]
本, with similar sound as [pəng] in Wu, [bun] or [bon] in Cantonese, [ben] in
Mandarin, and [pon] in Sino-Korean, all meaning “Root”, like [lạc] in Tay-
Nung. Similar to the English metaphor “groundnut” or “earthnut”, “phộng”
could be related to [pun] 坋, meaning “earth”, or [pok] 墣, meaning “clod of
earth”, both in Hakka. Thus, Peanut as “Lạc” or “đậu phộng” in Vietnamese is
originally a metaphorical term, denoting its harvest has to go to the roots of the
plant, or down to the earth or soil, itself. It is noted also that the more
commonly-used Vietnamese word “Rễ” for “Root”, came directly from ‘substratum’
Mon-Khmer: [ruih] Khmer, [ré:h] or [rih] or [re:] Pearic, [rơh] Bahnar,
[*rɛs] Proto-Waic, [rɛɛh] Souei, etc. [3].
The present discussion on lexical generation by metaphor will now examine the
etymology of words for basic colors, which in ancient Chinese thought, may
refer to White, Black, Yellow, Red, and Blue (or Green). These 5 colors are
associated with the 5 directions or 5-element in the Five-Element theory: White
goes with West (metal), Black goes with North (water), Blue (or Green) with
East (tree / wood), Red: South (fire), and Yellow: Central region (earth).
White
First, the most popular Vietnamese word for White color is Trắng (màu Trắng).
Under one of the rules of lexical borrowing or Jia Jie (Giả Tá), using tonal
3
change, it can be seen, most likely: Trắng being the color of Trăng, ie. White is
the color of the Moon. Ancient Vietnamese thus employed Trăng with some
declension in tone, to form Trắng describing the color White by using the
Moon as metaphor. Another language that also used the Moon as metaphor for
“White” is the Fijian language, where [vula] is the same word for “Month” and
“Moon”, and duplicative [vulavula] is word for color “White”. It is noted that
[vulavula] is duplicative, possibly because the language is not tonal like
Vietnamese or Thai, and [vula] resembles Malay word ‘bulan’ for Moon and
Month, with labiodental “v” substituting for bilabial “b” as initial.
Vietnamese use of Moon (trăng) for White (trắng) is very similar to the Thai
way of metaphorizing the color White, by describing in olden times, White
being the color of Rice. In Thai, Rice is called [Khaow] (gạo / cơm –
Vietnamese), and White is [Khaow] (Rice) pronounced with a different tone:
[Khãow] {i.e. [Khaow] (Rice) with a falling-rising tone}.
The Thai way of coupling White with Rice is supported by the Chinese word 白
[Bai]-2, which also has another Jia Jie word having different tone 粺 [Bai]-4
meaning ‘white or polished rice’ [5]. Corresponding Vietnamese sound for
[Bai] is Bạch meaning White. However Bạch could also be metaphorically
linked with [Bak] in Mon Khmer [3] or Bạc in Vietnamese, meaning ‘Silver’.
Another word for the color White in Chinese is 精 [jing] with Sino-Vietnamese
form as Tinh as in trắng tinh. Tinh also means ‘polished rice’, and it is
commonly used in compound words like: tinh-trùng (semen), quỷ-tinh (ghost,
having white color). Another word indicating White is 粉 [fen] (Vietnamese:
phấn) [5], also meaning ‘Flour’.
Vietnamese metaphorical use of Trăng (Moon: Bulan (Malay)) for the color
Trắng (White) also seems to have some support from the French language:
BLANC, which bears strong sound similarity to Trăng’s cognate:
‘Bulan’ (Cham & Malay). In the English language also, ‘to blanche’ (as in
‘blanched peanuts’), and ‘bleach’ could be said to be etymologically related to
the French adjective ‘Blanc’ or ‘Blanche’, all metaphorically linked with Malay
word ‘Bulan’ (Moon), over long distances.
Ancient Vietnamese and Thai also seemed to make metaphors out of the Moon
(Tlăng / Trăng) in other instances, like in Vietnamese: Tlòn => Tròn (round,
circular) and Tlổng => Trống (drum) [2] [11], with Thai equivalent [glohm]
and [glawng], respectively.
4
Black
The color Black very often derived its metaphor from ‘night time’, or vice
versa: Đêm (night), giving rise to Đen (Black), or similarly: Tối (night) => màu
Tối (Dark color) (see [4]). In Thai: [see Dam] is Black color, very close to
Vietnamese sắc Đêm or sắc Đen (màu Đêm or màu Đen). It is interesting to
note that a Chinese word for ‘Black’ is 黮, pronounced as [tam] or [tim] in
Hakka, and [taam] in Cantonese, very close to Vietnamese Đêm. The word for
‘Black horse’ is 驔 pronounced as [tim] or [daam] in Cantonese, and [tan] or
[dian] in Mandarin, all very close to Đêm or đen. Đêm (or đen, which
sometimes may be associated with Sậm or Đậm meaning Black, Dark, or
Dense) – with some dialect pronunciation as [Điêm] – and Hakka’s [tam] or
[tim] bear striking similarity in sound with English words: Dim and Dense. In
the Champa language, one word for ‘Black’ is [tăm], with Mon-Khmer
cognates of [təm] or [qitem] or [səm] [3], normally in Vietnamese as compound
word: ‘tối-tăm’ meaning ‘Dark’. While ‘Tối’ meaning Dark and Night, has
traces of Munda ([Toi-gal] Sora) in the substratum mix [17], ‘Tăm’ also has
cognate as *[zəm] or [qudem] in Mon-Khmer [3] [4], [tam-pagal] in Sora
(Munda), and [dahm] in Thai. [Zəm] or [qudem] is close to ‘đậm’, ‘sậm’, ‘đêm’
in Vietnamese. In Chinese: 夜 [Ye] or [Yi], meaning night, and 黟or 黓 [Yi]
meaning ‘dark’, ‘black’ – have similar sounds under Jia Jie. The same sort of
metaphor can be traced in French: Nuit (night) => Noir (black), noting that the
Italian and Portuguese word for ‘Night’ is ‘Notte’ and ‘Noite’, respectively.
There is another Chinese word for Black, called [wu] (Ô or Quạ): 烏
metaphorizing the Crow (Chim Ô). Another Chinese word for ‘Black’ took
metaphor from the black stuff spurting out from an octopus or squid: 墨,
pronounced [mo] or [mei] in Mandarin, and [mak] or [maak] in Cantonese. In
Chinese it refers to ‘black Ink’ or ‘black, dark’. Its sound correspondence in
Thai ([meuk]) and Vietnamese ([mực]), is used to denote ‘Ink’, and ‘Octopus’
or ‘Squid’. This commonality between Thai and Vietnamese will lead to an
introductory remark about the ‘Tree-and-Soil’ model, which would state that
between Thai and Vietnamese, there must be a common constitutive group of
speakers that use the same word [meuk] (mực) to denote both ‘Ink’ and
‘Squid’. Likewise, [Chai] (Thai) or [Xài] (Vietnamese) is used by a common
constitutive group of the two languages to denote BOTH ‘to use’ and ‘to spend
(money)’. Similarly, [Khaow] (Thai) or [Gạo / Cơm] (Vietnamese) is used by
that same, or another, common group of speakers to denote ‘Rice’ or ‘cooked
Rice’, or ‘Meal’.
5
In Korean, the word for ‘Black’ is [komun] sounding very similar to
Vietnamese gỗ mun meaning Ebony or Black-wood. The adjective mun
meaning ‘Black’ customarily is used in collocation with Mèo (cat) as: Mèo
Mun being ‘Black Cat’, having the same initial ‘M’. Other Sino-Vietnamese
words for Black are ‘âm’ 陰 & 隂, pronounced the same in Cantonese: [am], and
the sound is commonly used in Hainan for ‘Black’, though written differently:
晚, referring also to Night time. The word Âm 陰above, meaning Black, is
normally metaphorically linked with ‘Negative’ [yin] (as opposed to ‘Positive’
陽 [yang]).
Yellow
In ancient China, the color Yellow came very early from the metaphor
‘Loess’ {[Huang Tu] / Hoàng Thổ}, being yellow-earth or wind-borne deposits
along the Huang He (Yellow River). Its Chinese pronunciation [Huang] gave
rise to sound correspondence [Wang] or [Wong] in some Chinese dialects and
[Vong] in Hakka and “Vàng” in (northern) Vietnamese. The most significant
Chinese metaphor of [Huang] is ‘Huang Di’ meaning Emperor, originally:
Emperor of the Yellow Land. In English, the word ‘Yolk’ in ‘Egg Yolk’ looks
much metaphorically related to ‘Yellow’, which is described in French as
‘Jaune d’oeuf’.
It is of interest to note that English initial [Y] as in “Yellow” has some
correspondence with French [J] as in “Jaune” (yellow), as exemplified in:
young & jeune, yolk & jaune, yoke & joug, yap & japper, yodel & jodler. Quite
similar to sound correspondence between [Y] in Mandarin (and other Chinese
dialects) and [Z] in Hakka, and between northern pronunciation [Dz] and
southern pronunciation [Y] in initial [D] in Vietnamese. For example:
Character 夜 meaning “Night” is pronounced as [ye] in Mandarin and
Cantonese, but could be as [za] in some Hakka dialects, and [Dzạ] or [Yạ] in
northern or southern Vietnamese dialects, respectively.
Red
There is a strong metaphorical link between the color Red and the first colorful
observation by homo sapiens: ‘Blood’. Main Vietnamese words for ‘Red’ are
Hồng and Đỏ, and for ‘Blood’, Huyết and Máu., and it will be demonstrated in
the following that there is a link between words for “Blood” and “Red” in
Vietnamese.
6
Whereas [hong] means the Sun in the Tai dialect of the Yunnan area, the
‘official’ use of [hong] for Red in Chinese-Vietnamese dictionaries again tend
to obscure the range of thesaurus and etymology of ‘Red’ in both languages.
Interestingly, Huyết and Máu in Vietnamese have cognates in many languages
thousands of miles away, and thousands of years ago. Words similar to [Huyết]
are: (i) 血 pronounced as [xue] in Mandarin, but closer to ‘Huyết’ as [Hiet] in
Hakka, [Hyut] in Cantonese, and almost identical [Huih?] in Fujian, where [?]
is the glottal stop, a sound between [uh] and [oh] when pronouncing ‘uh-oh’
altogether. (ii) ‘Ver’ in Hungarian, ‘Veri’ in Finnish, ‘Gwyar’ and ‘Gwaed’ in
Welsh. Similar to Máu indicating ‘blood’ also, is the word [Mud] of the
Sumerian language, thousands of years ago [6]; and (iii) [Máóhk] of the
Blackfoot Indians in Canada, quite similar to Máu (Blood – Vietnamese), but
denoting “Red” [6].
Words that have meanings interchanged between ‘Red’ and ‘Blood’, and yield
similar sounds to corresponding Vietnamese words, include: (a) ‘Whero’ in
Maori, meaning Red, but with sound similar to Huyết {Blood} in Vietnamese;
(b) ’Wouj’ in Haitian Creole, also meaning ‘Red’; (c) [Hyoraek] in Korean,
meaning ‘Blood’; (d) 艧 [Wok] in Hakka, and [huo] in Mandarin, meaning ‘red
paint’; (e) Vietnamese word for ‘Blood veins’ or ‘Blood pulse’ is Mạch 脈 / 衇
having Chinese dialect sounds [5]: [mak] Hakka, [maak] Cantonese, with some
similar to Máu: [mo]-4 & [mai]-4 Mandarin, [ma?] Wu, [meh] Fujian, and
[meyk] Sino-Korean – indicating that Mạch (veins) is metaphorically similar to
Máu (Blood); (f) Tibetan word for the color Red is: ‘Mah’, again with ‘Mah’
very close to Máu (Blood); AND most interesting: (g) ‘Dugo’ in Tagalog, and
‘Toto’ in Samoan, Tongan, Tahitian, all meaning “Blood” [7].
It is ‘Dugo’ and ‘Toto’ under monosyllabic influence that would turn into ‘Du’
or ‘To’, being most likely sound cognate of Đỏ (màu Đỏ) or ‘Red’ in
Vietnamese. The color Red, Đỏ, in Vietnamese, with metaphor from Polynesian
‘Blood’ (‘Dugo’ and ‘Toto’), is quite consistent with Nguyen’s theory on the
origin of the Vietnamese [1], in that the Polynesians in ancient times
constituted one of the main ethnicities evolving into the modern-day
Vietnamese. It is noted that, as in the case of La Lune and Le Mois in French,
the Vietnamese language derived Đỏ (Red) and Huyết or Máu (Blood) from
different constitutive sources, and different languages, whilst they are all
metaphorically related.
Blue or Green
7
Blue and Green took metaphors mainly from Sky / Sea, and Leaf / Grass,
respectively. Blue color is called xanh da trời (sky blue), xanh dương (ocean
blue) or xanh lam (blue or indigo – [laam]-Cantonese). Green is xanh lục
([luk]-Cantonese), xanh lá cây (leafy green) – which correspond to similar
metaphors in many languages. For example: Irish / Welsh: Glas (with sound
similar to ‘Grass’) meaning ‘Green’ (GRass <=> GReen); Czech: ‘Obloha’
meaning both Sky and Blue [6]. In Chinese, 青 [qing] (thanh – Sino-
Vietnamese) has sound close to: [qian] = sky, and the same sound [qian] written
as 芊means ‘green foliage, green grass’ [5].
Khmer word for “leaf” is [sluhk choe] with [sluhk] quite similar to “lục” in
“xanh lục” for Green”. Word for a kind of leaf in the Hakka dialect is [lo]
荖,
having similar sound to [lo?] in Wu and Sino-Korean for the color Green. In
Thai, “sky blue” is called [faa see], where [faa] means ‘sky’, and [see] is color,
equivalent to Vietnamese ‘sắc’. Burmese word for ‘Green’ is [sein-de], very
close to Vietnamese ‘xanh’. It should be noted that the initial ‘X’ in ‘xanh’
shows a sound correspondence (X <=> Th) between Chinese dialects and
Vietnamese, Burmese and Mon-Khmer varieties. For example: Salween =>
Thalwin (river), both Burmese; [cheng] (Chinese) => thành; rusa (‘deer’ in
Mon-Khmer) => ratha, ritha (Champa); [qing] => xanh = thanh. Sometimes
from afar: French word (le) Singe => Thân (associated with Monkey, being
one of the 12 oriental Zodiac signs).
Brown
A search for metaphors of the color Brown will show that words describing
colors through metaphors, not only may change from one group of speakers to
another, but also could vary with time.
Ancient (northern) Chinese appeared to use the Brown scorpion 蝎 (Mandarin
[he] Cantonese & Hakka [hot]) as metaphor for the Brown color: 褐. Cantonese
at one stage preferred using the Palm Tree 棕 for ‘Brown: 棕色 [zung sik], and
now swapping for coffee color: 啡 色 [fei sik] [9], competing with ‘Chocolate’
in many languages as metaphor for ‘Brown’: [sukkolaa] (Khmer), coklat
(Indonesian), etc. Thai word for ‘Brown’ is [nahm dtahn], which is similar to
words for ‘(brown) sugar’.
8
Vietnamese word for Brown is Nâu, having cognates as [nyou-de] in Burmese
[7], and [tnaot] in Cambodian [8], all very likely metaphorically linked with
either (a) Khmer word [tnaot] meaning also “palm fruit”, like Cantonese [zung]
for palm tree; Or: (b) ‘Chinese’ word [niao] 鸟meaning Bird, a brown bird,
such as a female ostrich (Đà-Điểu mái), quoted as Chim nâu (brown bird) in
Alexandre de Rhodes’ dictionary [2]. Nâu (Brown) is thus likely of Mon-
Khmer origin and yet also has Chinese connection via [niao]. This can be
reconciled by noting that according to ancient Chinese texts, (proto) Mon
Khmer groups were called the Di – Qiang [1], present almost everywhere in
China, and often associated with the Western Barbarians (Xi Rong / Tây
Nhung). The legendary King Yu, founder of the Xia Dynasty of China, is said
to have Qiang ethnic origin [1]. Nâu, for Brown, also looks metaphorically
related (in sound) to Nai (Deer) and Gấu (Bear), since these two animals
normally have brown-colored skin. The same can be said of a possible link
between Brown & Black with Cow (under the generic term ‘Bos’) and Bear.
Both Cow/Bull (Bos) and Bear normally bear a Brown or Black color.
DISCUSSION
In the foregoing, it has been shown that Vietnamese words used to describe
colors, are mainly derived from metaphors.
In the first instance, color lexicon was generated from observation of object or
phenomenon, that was most typically identified with the color, by declension in
tone, or phonological shift whilst still retaining the initial, consonant being
most common. Examples include: Trắng (White) being the color of Trăng (the
Moon); Đen (Black) or Tối (Dark), color of Đêm or Tối (the night). Đen or
Đêm is equivalent to Thai word [dahm] for “Black”. Mực (Black or Ink), both
in Thai and Vietnamese, is used interchangeably with squid or octopus, which
can eject a black liquid when under stress.
Lexical generation by metaphor can also be made using the metaphor source
from another language or dialect, which in the orthodox way has been
explained in terms of borrowing. Under the Tree-and-Soil approach, however,
metaphor word source is considered to come from one or several other
contributory dialects of the national language, at some period of time in the
past. This is exemplified by the pair Đỏ (Red) and Máu or Huyết (Blood).
Whereas Máu and Huyết (Blood) have many cognates in languages or dialects
in the north, Đỏ as Red has cognates found in Tagalog and Polynesian sources,
meaning Blood itself. This is quite similar to French word “Noir” for Black,
being closer to Italian and Portuguese word for ‘Night’: ‘Notte’ and ‘Noite’,
respectively, than “Nuit” in French.
9
Other characteristics of words for basic colors generated through metaphors
may include:
(a) As life-style, even in ancient times, may change, the original metaphor
could also change with time. For example, word for color Brown in
Cantonese (Hongkong), Vietnamese, and many Asian languages, in the last
century could end up at some places as “Chocolate” color, or “coffee-withmilk”
color.
(b) Metaphor source also may be totally different between neighboring
languages, both sharing a common tongue, being one common substratum
among many, of the languages during formative centuries in the past. This
is the case of Vietnamese use of the Moon compared with Thai use of Rice,
both as metaphor for the color White. This apparent paradox can be
reconciled easily by the present theory, on recognizing the fact that in
ancient times, two different tribes of the same ethnicity may have different
metaphors for the same lexicon, which later on became two different words
for the same connotation or meaning in two neighboring languages, as
exemplified further by a wide range of metaphors and associated lexicon for
other colors, like Brown and Black.
Word generation by metaphor in general has illustrated some thinking process
taking place in the mind of ancient people when a word was first “coined”. It
resulted primarily from observation of a phenomenon, an act, or object, or
living creature, possessing some characteristics or defining features of the
same, or in the vicinity thereof. As it involved some product of the mind of
ancient people, originally, those words generated by shared metaphor, or with
similar metaphorical features may provide a powerful measure to probe into the
mind of ancient people, and to trace, where relevant, the dialect(s) that
contributed to evolutionary formation of a national language, under the present
Tree-and-Soil theoretical formulation (see also [14] and [15]).
An example to illustrate the use of shared metaphorical features taken from
[15] is Mắt Cá, Vietnamese word for “ankle”, where Mắt is Eye, and Cá, often
mistaken for Fish, by its quốc-ngữ spelling (cá) which is identical to word for
Fish. By conventional wisdom therefore, mắt cá at best would be explained as
ancient metaphor for “fish eye”. However, when searching for the “real”
metaphor from other languages or dialects, it can be seen that Mắt Cá (Ankle)
should be correctly interpreted as ‘leg’s eye’, since ‘cá’ is in fact a declension
of ‘cẳng’, from other languages contributing to Vietnamese, such as Hakka
[ka], Tay-Nung [kha], meaning ‘leg’. ‘Mắt cá’ with correct meaning of ‘leg’s
eye’, is supported by word for ‘ankle’ in Gorum (Munda) [maD-jig], and in
Cantonese [goek ngaan] 腳 眼, where [maD] and [ngaan] are words for ‘eye’,
and [jig] and [goek], are simply ‘leg’ or ‘feet’, respectively. In sound ‘mắt cá’ is
10
closely connected with [kwa] Hakka 踝, or [giok kwa] 腳 踝 (Mandarin [jiao
huai]), and [mo?-suG] Remo (Munda), where [mo?] is ‘eye’ and [suG], leg, as
in compound word [maD-jig] in Gorum, or ‘mắt cá’ in Vietnamese [15].
Since there are many other languages or dialects, that have shared metaphorical
features in words for “Ankle” with Vietnamese, while assisting to uncover the
hidden meaning of “Mắt Cá”, it can be identified that in the long past it was
very likely that the Vietnamese language in its formative stage had contribution
from all the languages or dialects above, especially Hakka, Tay Nung and
Munda dialects, under word for “ankle”. When “Mắt Cá” is viewed with other
words shown above for “Peanut” (lạc and đậu phộng), for example, it becomes
more apparent that lexical analysis through metaphor could offer a new and
powerful tool to trace etymology of words hitherto often considered to be
hidden from scrutiny by conventional approaches.
Such metaphorical analysis could also reveal some effects of codification of
Vietnamese by Latin alphabet, which tend to obscure a variety of phonology of
a wide range of vocabulary in the past. Again, consider two Vietnamese words
for Peanut: lạc and đậu phộng, both deriving from metaphor of “nuts”
harvested from plant roots, as both lạc and phộng come from two different
groups of dialects, and have meaning as “Roots”. Lạc is from Tay-Nung
dialect, and Phộng is a quốc-ngữ phonetic transcription of [pông] 本, with
similar sound as [pəng] in Wu, [bun] or [bon] in Cantonese, [ben] in Mandarin,
and [pon] in Sino-Korean, all similarly meaning “Root”. It is noted further that
the “official” Sino-Vietnamese transcription of character 本 [ben] (Mandarin) as
“bổn” under conventional studies also obscures two important aspects of the
present approach: (a) Vietnamese lexicon may have a wide range of thesaurus
meanings, depending on different tones, dialects, and origins. For example,
“bổn” under the traditional framework would have to conform to a “one-word,
one-meaning” regime, denoting “origin” with only one tone, being the hỏi (?)
tone. And (b) The process of standardization of spelling and pronunciation of
words through quốc-ngữ has overshadowed many parallel and intersecting
arrays of sound correspondence between, words of the same meaning, in
different dialects or tongues that contributed to formation of Vietnamese in the
past. The word phộng in “đậu phộng” (peanut), being equivalent to ““bổn”,
and yet under different tone, initial, and ending, could be seen under the present
theory as an end result of alphabet codification taking account of the following
sound correspondences:
(i) Between [ph] Tay-Nung and [b] Vietnamese [13] {phộng <> bổn}:
11
phổng= băng (to cross); phưa= bừa (rake)
(ii) Between [p] Tay-Nung and [v] & [b] Vietnamese {pông <> bổn}:
pỏn= vốn (byốn [2]) (capital); pỏn tỉ= bản (bổn) địa (indigenous)
(iii) Between [ph] Mường and [b] & [v] Vietnamese [11]:
phố vai= vỗ vai (byỗ byai [2]); phửa= bừa (carefree)
(iv) Between [p] Mường and [b] Vietnamese:
pông= bông (flower); pỏng thổi= bóng tối (dark shadow, night time);
pớ lẽ= vỡ lẽ (byỡ lẽ [2]); pền lô= bền lâu (to last long); pĩ= bị (bag)
(v) Between [ông] and [ôn] {phộng <> bổn}:
tông giáo [16] => tôn giáo (religion)
In summary, study of etymology of words in Vietnamese and other neighboring
languages for basic colors, through metaphors as presented here, has shown
consistent results to lend further support to the Tree-and-Soil formulation
which stated that Vietnamese is a historical and evolutionary merger of many
languages and dialects in the region, with a Mon-Khmer substratum mixed with
Thai, Munda, Polynesian and Negrito, superimposed and interwoven with
strata of the ancient Bai Yue (Bách Việt) groups in Southern China.
REFERENCES & NOTES
[1] V.U. Nguyen (Nguyen Nguyen) (2007) Thử đọc lại truyền thuyết Hùng
Vương. [In search of the origin of the Vietnamese]. (in publication).
[2] Alexandre de Rhodes (1651) Dictionarium Annamiticum – Lusitanum –
Latinum. Translated by: Thanh Lãng, Hoàng Xuân Việt, Đỗ Quang Chính. Pub.
By Vien Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi – HCM 1991.
[3] L. V. Hayes (2001) Austric Glossary –

http://home.att.net/~lvhayes/Langling/Glossary/Glospag1/glosf019.htm

[4] Latvian ‘tumsa’ and Lithuanian ‘tamsa’ could be counted as long-distanced
cognates of Mon-Khmer/Viet ‘tăm / tối tăm’, meaning ‘dark, night’. ‘Tối’ itself,
main Vietnamese word for ‘dark, night’, likely has some sound correspondence
with 夕 [xi] Mandarin, [sit] Hakka, {tịch} S-V, OR: 霄 [xiao] M., [seu] or [siau]
H., {tiêu} S-V, or both. Closest to tối and tăm’, and ‘tối tăm’ together, under
etymology and monosyllabic pressure, however would likely be Munda
lexicon: [tOi-gal] and [tam-pagal] in Sora, [Tok] as in [kimi-tok] (dark night)
and [arke-tok] (moonlit night) in Remo and Gutob, and [raTo] in Korku.
[5] CCDICT v5.1.1: Chinese Character Dictionary by Chineselanguage.org
(1995-2006)
[6] Philip M. Parker, INSEAD (2008) Webster’s Online Dictionary with
Multilingual Thesaurus Translation: http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org
[7] Charles Hamblin (1984) Languages of Asia & The Pacific. Angus &
Robertson Publishers. (1988 Paperback Edition).
12
[8] Richard K. Gilbert & Sovandy Hang (2004) Cambodian for Beginners.
Paiboon Publishing.
[9] Hmong word for ‘Brown’: kas fes (coffee).
[10] GERARD MOUSSAY, Nại Thành Bô, Thiên Sanh Cảnh, Lưu Ngọc Hiến,
Đàng Năng Phương, Lưu Quang Sanh, Lâm Gia Tịnh, Trương Văn Tốn (1971).
Tự Điển Chàm-Việt-Pháp (Champa-Vietnamese-French Dictionary). Trung tâm
Văn-hóa Chàm – Phan-Rang.
[11] Nguyễn Văn Khang (editor), Bùi Chỉ, Hoàng Văn Hành (2002) Từ Điển
Mường-Việt {Mường-Vietnamese Dictionary}. Published by Văn Hoá Dân Tộc
– Hà Nội.
[12] Jeffrey Barlow (2005) The Zhuang: A Longitudinal Study of their History
and their Culture. AT:

http://mcel.pacificu.edu/as/resources/zhuang/contents.html

[13] Hoàng Văn Ma – Lục Văn Pảo – Hoàng Chí (1974) Từ Điển Tày – Nùng –
Việt (Tay-Nung-Viet Dictionary). Published by Viện Ngôn Ngữ Học (The
Linguistics Institute).
[14] V. U. Nguyen (2008) Vietnamese Personal Pronouns. (submitted for
publication).
[15] V. U. Nguyen (2008) Body Parts in Vietnamese. (submitted for
publication).
[16] Trần Trọng Kim (1971) Nho Giáo (Confucianism). Published by: Trung
Tâm Học Liệu (Centre for Teaching Materials) – Saigon
[17] Patricia J. Donegan and David Stampe (2004) Munda Lexical Archive.

http://www.ling.hawaii.edu/faculty/stampe/AA/Munda/ETYM/Pinnow&Munda

http://ling.lll.hawaii.edu/faculty/stampe/AA/Munda/Dictionaries/00README

13BASIC COLORS AND METAPHORS
V.U. Nguyen
ABSTRACT: The paper presents a short a study on etymology of words for
basic colors in Vietnamese. It is shown that lexicon of basic colors was derived
mainly through metaphor, which results from observation of a phenomenon, an
object, an act, or a living creature, and its associated or defining features or
characteristics. The process of metaphoring could be undertaken over a period
of time in the past by speakers of many different languages or dialects, that
eventually evolved and merged into the Vietnamese language, modified
through quốc-ngữ codification using Latin alphabet.
***
For a long time, research in the field of linguistic origins, specifically applied
to the Vietnamese language, has been based almost exclusively on the Treeand-
Branch model, which normally is associated with, or results in the
hypothesis of loan words or lexical borrowing applied to cognates between any
two different languages that may, customarily, share the same branch or tree in
language grouping.
Working from the old folklore about the union of Âu Cơ & Lạc Long Quân and
the 18 reigns of King Hùng Vương, Nguyen [1] has developed a new theory on
the origin of the Vietnamese and their language, and demonstrated through
many case examples, using historical, cultural and linguistic data among others,
that Vietnamese is a historical and evolutionary merger of many languages and
dialects. It has a Mon-Khmer substratum mixed with Thai, Munda, Polynesian
and Negrito, superimposed and interwoven with strata of the ancient Bai Yue
(Bách Việt) groups in Southern China, including most notably ancient tongues
in Zhuang, Guangdong, Fujian, Wu (Shanghai-Zhejiang), Hainan, and
reinforced by the Hakka and Miao-Yao (Hmong-Mien) combination (see also
[14] and [15]). The theory is based on a model, tentatively called the Tree-and-
Soil model, whereby most of the lexicon hitherto considered as loan words,
especially in the long past, could be considered to come from languages and
dialects that contributed to evolutionary formation of Vietnamese. It follows
naturally that lexical borrowing would be relegated to a second-order issue. In
the following, this important feature of the theory will be further examined
through investigation of basic colors, in the Vietnamese language, with a view
to getting a better understanding of the mechanics of lexical merger,
particularly through identification of shared metaphors, among different
1
languages or dialects in the formative centuries or millennia, before a singular
and unified language came into being.
Word generation by metaphor
Consider first, some features of lexical generation by metaphor, through
examples surrounding the words “Month” and “Moon”. In many languages, the
word describing the ‘Moon’ is often paired with that meaning ‘Month’, since
‘month’ was conceived very early as one basic cycle of the Moon. For
example: [yue] and [yue] (Chinese), [mah] and [mah] (Persian), [là] and [là]
(Burmese), [bulan] and [bulan] (Malay), [vula] and [vula] (Fijian), [mahina]
and [mahina] (Tongan), [masina] and [masina] (Samoan), [mececev: moon] and
[mesec: month] (Serbo-Croatian), [maan: moon] and [maand: month] (Dutch),
[mane: moon] and [maned: month] (Danish), etc.
In the Vietnamese language, the word for ‘Moon’ came from one compositional
group: Trăng (or ‘blăng’ [2] – similar to ‘Bulan’ in Malay, or ‘tlăng’ in Mường),
and for ‘Month’, from another group: Tháng – compared with: [Thang] in
Fujian, [Căn] for Moon and [Bilan] for Month, in the Champa language [10];
‘La Lune’ (Moon) and ‘Le Mois’ (Month), in French. That is, Month and Moon
are not represented by the same word, in Vietnamese, Chamic, and French. On
examination of neighboring languages, it can be seen that in Vietnamese, Trăng
(Moon) has a cognate ‘Bulan’ in Malay, or ‘tlăng’ in Mường, whereas Tháng
(Month) was most likely derived, as a combination, from Mường [khảng] and
Fujian [Thang] meaning ‘month’ and ‘rising moon’, respectively. Tháng could
also come straight from a Thai word [thaawn], meaning “the moon”. This
would indicate that, metaphorical word pairs in Vietnamese, like French, may
have elements coming from different tongues, both constituting the language as
a whole.
Another word that can be used to illustrate both lexical generation by metaphor
and its complexity is “Kiều”, as in “kiều bào” (expatriates) or “Việt
kiều” (overseas Vietnamese), customarily considered as Sino-Vietnamese in
origin. First “kiều” shares common sound with [kiu] or [k’ieu] in the Hakka
dialect, which in turn is equivalent to [kou]
口 in Mandarin, following the “[iu]-
to-[ou]” phoneme conversion rule among Chinese-BaiYue dialects, as detailed
in [1]. [Kou] is “khẩu” in Vietnamese meaning “mouth” or “Person”. Under
Nôm, khẩu is Miệng or Mồm. The metaphor used here is that “Mouth”
represents “person”, and examples will include: Hộ Khẩu meaning Household
Register listing the names of all persons living in a house; “Nhà này có 3 miệng
ăn” i.e. This household has 3 mouths (persons). Kiều as in kiều bào, denoting a
person residing in a foreign country, is also pronounced similarly as [kiau] in
2
Hakka, and [qiao]
僑 in Mandarin. It is written as 僑 akin to [qiao] 橋
, word for
“bridge”, also called “kiều” or “cầu” (“[iu]-to-[ou]” phoneme conversion), as if
an expatriate was originally a native of one tribe, living in another tribe, as
commonly separated by a bridge.
A word that would best illustrate contribution of ethnic dialects to Vietnamese,
by way of metaphor, is “Peanut” known in Vietnamese as “Lạc” or “đậu
phộng”. “Lạc” and “đậu phộng”, interestingly may appear in different
“forms” but conform to a single metaphor, though under different dialects.
Other names for “Peanut” include “Groundnut” and “Earthnut”, which point to
a metaphor in the English language, denoting that the Nut (or pea) is grown in
the ground or earth, intermingled with, and connected to roots of the plant
(Arachis hypogaea). In the Muong dialect, peanut is also called [lac] like
Vietnamese (northern), but without the nặng accent [11]. Whereas in the Tay-
Nung dialect, which is related to the Zhuang dialect in GuangXi [12], the word
for “Root” is merely “Lạc” [13], identical to Vietnamese “Lạc” for Peanut.
“Đậu phộng” is a term of the southern dialect, also used to denote “peanut”.
“Đậu” means Pea, and “phộng” is a quốc-ngữ phonetic transcription of [pông]
本, with similar sound as [pəng] in Wu, [bun] or [bon] in Cantonese, [ben] in
Mandarin, and [pon] in Sino-Korean, all meaning “Root”, like [lạc] in Tay-
Nung. Similar to the English metaphor “groundnut” or “earthnut”, “phộng”
could be related to [pun] 坋, meaning “earth”, or [pok] 墣, meaning “clod of
earth”, both in Hakka. Thus, Peanut as “Lạc” or “đậu phộng” in Vietnamese is
originally a metaphorical term, denoting its harvest has to go to the roots of the
plant, or down to the earth or soil, itself. It is noted also that the more
commonly-used Vietnamese word “Rễ” for “Root”, came directly from ‘substratum’
Mon-Khmer: [ruih] Khmer, [ré:h] or [rih] or [re:] Pearic, [rơh] Bahnar,
[*rɛs] Proto-Waic, [rɛɛh] Souei, etc. [3].
The present discussion on lexical generation by metaphor will now examine the
etymology of words for basic colors, which in ancient Chinese thought, may
refer to White, Black, Yellow, Red, and Blue (or Green). These 5 colors are
associated with the 5 directions or 5-element in the Five-Element theory: White
goes with West (metal), Black goes with North (water), Blue (or Green) with
East (tree / wood), Red: South (fire), and Yellow: Central region (earth).
White
First, the most popular Vietnamese word for White color is Trắng (màu Trắng).
Under one of the rules of lexical borrowing or Jia Jie (Giả Tá), using tonal
3
change, it can be seen, most likely: Trắng being the color of Trăng, ie. White is
the color of the Moon. Ancient Vietnamese thus employed Trăng with some
declension in tone, to form Trắng describing the color White by using the
Moon as metaphor. Another language that also used the Moon as metaphor for
“White” is the Fijian language, where [vula] is the same word for “Month” and
“Moon”, and duplicative [vulavula] is word for color “White”. It is noted that
[vulavula] is duplicative, possibly because the language is not tonal like
Vietnamese or Thai, and [vula] resembles Malay word ‘bulan’ for Moon and
Month, with labiodental “v” substituting for bilabial “b” as initial.
Vietnamese use of Moon (trăng) for White (trắng) is very similar to the Thai
way of metaphorizing the color White, by describing in olden times, White
being the color of Rice. In Thai, Rice is called [Khaow] (gạo / cơm –
Vietnamese), and White is [Khaow] (Rice) pronounced with a different tone:
[Khãow] {i.e. [Khaow] (Rice) with a falling-rising tone}.
The Thai way of coupling White with Rice is supported by the Chinese word 白
[Bai]-2, which also has another Jia Jie word having different tone 粺 [Bai]-4
meaning ‘white or polished rice’ [5]. Corresponding Vietnamese sound for
[Bai] is Bạch meaning White. However Bạch could also be metaphorically
linked with [Bak] in Mon Khmer [3] or Bạc in Vietnamese, meaning ‘Silver’.
Another word for the color White in Chinese is 精 [jing] with Sino-Vietnamese
form as Tinh as in trắng tinh. Tinh also means ‘polished rice’, and it is
commonly used in compound words like: tinh-trùng (semen), quỷ-tinh (ghost,
having white color). Another word indicating White is 粉 [fen] (Vietnamese:
phấn) [5], also meaning ‘Flour’.
Vietnamese metaphorical use of Trăng (Moon: Bulan (Malay)) for the color
Trắng (White) also seems to have some support from the French language:
BLANC, which bears strong sound similarity to Trăng’s cognate:
‘Bulan’ (Cham & Malay). In the English language also, ‘to blanche’ (as in
‘blanched peanuts’), and ‘bleach’ could be said to be etymologically related to
the French adjective ‘Blanc’ or ‘Blanche’, all metaphorically linked with Malay
word ‘Bulan’ (Moon), over long distances.
Ancient Vietnamese and Thai also seemed to make metaphors out of the Moon
(Tlăng / Trăng) in other instances, like in Vietnamese: Tlòn => Tròn (round,
circular) and Tlổng => Trống (drum) [2] [11], with Thai equivalent [glohm]
and [glawng], respectively.
4
Black
The color Black very often derived its metaphor from ‘night time’, or vice
versa: Đêm (night), giving rise to Đen (Black), or similarly: Tối (night) => màu
Tối (Dark color) (see [4]). In Thai: [see Dam] is Black color, very close to
Vietnamese sắc Đêm or sắc Đen (màu Đêm or màu Đen). It is interesting to
note that a Chinese word for ‘Black’ is 黮, pronounced as [tam] or [tim] in
Hakka, and [taam] in Cantonese, very close to Vietnamese Đêm. The word for
‘Black horse’ is 驔 pronounced as [tim] or [daam] in Cantonese, and [tan] or
[dian] in Mandarin, all very close to Đêm or đen. Đêm (or đen, which
sometimes may be associated with Sậm or Đậm meaning Black, Dark, or
Dense) – with some dialect pronunciation as [Điêm] – and Hakka’s [tam] or
[tim] bear striking similarity in sound with English words: Dim and Dense. In
the Champa language, one word for ‘Black’ is [tăm], with Mon-Khmer
cognates of [təm] or [qitem] or [səm] [3], normally in Vietnamese as compound
word: ‘tối-tăm’ meaning ‘Dark’. While ‘Tối’ meaning Dark and Night, has
traces of Munda ([Toi-gal] Sora) in the substratum mix [17], ‘Tăm’ also has
cognate as *[zəm] or [qudem] in Mon-Khmer [3] [4], [tam-pagal] in Sora
(Munda), and [dahm] in Thai. [Zəm] or [qudem] is close to ‘đậm’, ‘sậm’, ‘đêm’
in Vietnamese. In Chinese: 夜 [Ye] or [Yi], meaning night, and 黟or 黓 [Yi]
meaning ‘dark’, ‘black’ – have similar sounds under Jia Jie. The same sort of
metaphor can be traced in French: Nuit (night) => Noir (black), noting that the
Italian and Portuguese word for ‘Night’ is ‘Notte’ and ‘Noite’, respectively.
There is another Chinese word for Black, called [wu] (Ô or Quạ): 烏
metaphorizing the Crow (Chim Ô). Another Chinese word for ‘Black’ took
metaphor from the black stuff spurting out from an octopus or squid: 墨,
pronounced [mo] or [mei] in Mandarin, and [mak] or [maak] in Cantonese. In
Chinese it refers to ‘black Ink’ or ‘black, dark’. Its sound correspondence in
Thai ([meuk]) and Vietnamese ([mực]), is used to denote ‘Ink’, and ‘Octopus’
or ‘Squid’. This commonality between Thai and Vietnamese will lead to an
introductory remark about the ‘Tree-and-Soil’ model, which would state that
between Thai and Vietnamese, there must be a common constitutive group of
speakers that use the same word [meuk] (mực) to denote both ‘Ink’ and
‘Squid’. Likewise, [Chai] (Thai) or [Xài] (Vietnamese) is used by a common
constitutive group of the two languages to denote BOTH ‘to use’ and ‘to spend
(money)’. Similarly, [Khaow] (Thai) or [Gạo / Cơm] (Vietnamese) is used by
that same, or another, common group of speakers to denote ‘Rice’ or ‘cooked
Rice’, or ‘Meal’.
5
In Korean, the word for ‘Black’ is [komun] sounding very similar to
Vietnamese gỗ mun meaning Ebony or Black-wood. The adjective mun
meaning ‘Black’ customarily is used in collocation with Mèo (cat) as: Mèo
Mun being ‘Black Cat’, having the same initial ‘M’. Other Sino-Vietnamese
words for Black are ‘âm’ 陰 & 隂, pronounced the same in Cantonese: [am], and
the sound is commonly used in Hainan for ‘Black’, though written differently:
晚, referring also to Night time. The word Âm 陰above, meaning Black, is
normally metaphorically linked with ‘Negative’ [yin] (as opposed to ‘Positive’
陽 [yang]).
Yellow
In ancient China, the color Yellow came very early from the metaphor
‘Loess’ {[Huang Tu] / Hoàng Thổ}, being yellow-earth or wind-borne deposits
along the Huang He (Yellow River). Its Chinese pronunciation [Huang] gave
rise to sound correspondence [Wang] or [Wong] in some Chinese dialects and
[Vong] in Hakka and “Vàng” in (northern) Vietnamese. The most significant
Chinese metaphor of [Huang] is ‘Huang Di’ meaning Emperor, originally:
Emperor of the Yellow Land. In English, the word ‘Yolk’ in ‘Egg Yolk’ looks
much metaphorically related to ‘Yellow’, which is described in French as
‘Jaune d’oeuf’.
It is of interest to note that English initial [Y] as in “Yellow” has some
correspondence with French [J] as in “Jaune” (yellow), as exemplified in:
young & jeune, yolk & jaune, yoke & joug, yap & japper, yodel & jodler. Quite
similar to sound correspondence between [Y] in Mandarin (and other Chinese
dialects) and [Z] in Hakka, and between northern pronunciation [Dz] and
southern pronunciation [Y] in initial [D] in Vietnamese. For example:
Character 夜 meaning “Night” is pronounced as [ye] in Mandarin and
Cantonese, but could be as [za] in some Hakka dialects, and [Dzạ] or [Yạ] in
northern or southern Vietnamese dialects, respectively.
Red
There is a strong metaphorical link between the color Red and the first colorful
observation by homo sapiens: ‘Blood’. Main Vietnamese words for ‘Red’ are
Hồng and Đỏ, and for ‘Blood’, Huyết and Máu., and it will be demonstrated in
the following that there is a link between words for “Blood” and “Red” in
Vietnamese.
6
Whereas [hong] means the Sun in the Tai dialect of the Yunnan area, the
‘official’ use of [hong] for Red in Chinese-Vietnamese dictionaries again tend
to obscure the range of thesaurus and etymology of ‘Red’ in both languages.
Interestingly, Huyết and Máu in Vietnamese have cognates in many languages
thousands of miles away, and thousands of years ago. Words similar to [Huyết]
are: (i) 血 pronounced as [xue] in Mandarin, but closer to ‘Huyết’ as [Hiet] in
Hakka, [Hyut] in Cantonese, and almost identical [Huih?] in Fujian, where [?]
is the glottal stop, a sound between [uh] and [oh] when pronouncing ‘uh-oh’
altogether. (ii) ‘Ver’ in Hungarian, ‘Veri’ in Finnish, ‘Gwyar’ and ‘Gwaed’ in
Welsh. Similar to Máu indicating ‘blood’ also, is the word [Mud] of the
Sumerian language, thousands of years ago [6]; and (iii) [Máóhk] of the
Blackfoot Indians in Canada, quite similar to Máu (Blood – Vietnamese), but
denoting “Red” [6].
Words that have meanings interchanged between ‘Red’ and ‘Blood’, and yield
similar sounds to corresponding Vietnamese words, include: (a) ‘Whero’ in
Maori, meaning Red, but with sound similar to Huyết {Blood} in Vietnamese;
(b) ’Wouj’ in Haitian Creole, also meaning ‘Red’; (c) [Hyoraek] in Korean,
meaning ‘Blood’; (d) 艧 [Wok] in Hakka, and [huo] in Mandarin, meaning ‘red
paint’; (e) Vietnamese word for ‘Blood veins’ or ‘Blood pulse’ is Mạch 脈 / 衇
having Chinese dialect sounds [5]: [mak] Hakka, [maak] Cantonese, with some
similar to Máu: [mo]-4 & [mai]-4 Mandarin, [ma?] Wu, [meh] Fujian, and
[meyk] Sino-Korean – indicating that Mạch (veins) is metaphorically similar to
Máu (Blood); (f) Tibetan word for the color Red is: ‘Mah’, again with ‘Mah’
very close to Máu (Blood); AND most interesting: (g) ‘Dugo’ in Tagalog, and
‘Toto’ in Samoan, Tongan, Tahitian, all meaning “Blood” [7].
It is ‘Dugo’ and ‘Toto’ under monosyllabic influence that would turn into ‘Du’
or ‘To’, being most likely sound cognate of Đỏ (màu Đỏ) or ‘Red’ in
Vietnamese. The color Red, Đỏ, in Vietnamese, with metaphor from Polynesian
‘Blood’ (‘Dugo’ and ‘Toto’), is quite consistent with Nguyen’s theory on the
origin of the Vietnamese [1], in that the Polynesians in ancient times
constituted one of the main ethnicities evolving into the modern-day
Vietnamese. It is noted that, as in the case of La Lune and Le Mois in French,
the Vietnamese language derived Đỏ (Red) and Huyết or Máu (Blood) from
different constitutive sources, and different languages, whilst they are all
metaphorically related.
Blue or Green
7
Blue and Green took metaphors mainly from Sky / Sea, and Leaf / Grass,
respectively. Blue color is called xanh da trời (sky blue), xanh dương (ocean
blue) or xanh lam (blue or indigo – [laam]-Cantonese). Green is xanh lục
([luk]-Cantonese), xanh lá cây (leafy green) – which correspond to similar
metaphors in many languages. For example: Irish / Welsh: Glas (with sound
similar to ‘Grass’) meaning ‘Green’ (GRass <=> GReen); Czech: ‘Obloha’
meaning both Sky and Blue [6]. In Chinese, 青 [qing] (thanh – Sino-
Vietnamese) has sound close to: [qian] = sky, and the same sound [qian] written
as 芊means ‘green foliage, green grass’ [5].
Khmer word for “leaf” is [sluhk choe] with [sluhk] quite similar to “lục” in
“xanh lục” for Green”. Word for a kind of leaf in the Hakka dialect is [lo]
荖,
having similar sound to [lo?] in Wu and Sino-Korean for the color Green. In
Thai, “sky blue” is called [faa see], where [faa] means ‘sky’, and [see] is color,
equivalent to Vietnamese ‘sắc’. Burmese word for ‘Green’ is [sein-de], very
close to Vietnamese ‘xanh’. It should be noted that the initial ‘X’ in ‘xanh’
shows a sound correspondence (X <=> Th) between Chinese dialects and
Vietnamese, Burmese and Mon-Khmer varieties. For example: Salween =>
Thalwin (river), both Burmese; [cheng] (Chinese) => thành; rusa (‘deer’ in
Mon-Khmer) => ratha, ritha (Champa); [qing] => xanh = thanh. Sometimes
from afar: French word (le) Singe => Thân (associated with Monkey, being
one of the 12 oriental Zodiac signs).
Brown
A search for metaphors of the color Brown will show that words describing
colors through metaphors, not only may change from one group of speakers to
another, but also could vary with time.
Ancient (northern) Chinese appeared to use the Brown scorpion 蝎 (Mandarin
[he] Cantonese & Hakka [hot]) as metaphor for the Brown color: 褐. Cantonese
at one stage preferred using the Palm Tree 棕 for ‘Brown: 棕色 [zung sik], and
now swapping for coffee color: 啡 色 [fei sik] [9], competing with ‘Chocolate’
in many languages as metaphor for ‘Brown’: [sukkolaa] (Khmer), coklat
(Indonesian), etc. Thai word for ‘Brown’ is [nahm dtahn], which is similar to
words for ‘(brown) sugar’.
8
Vietnamese word for Brown is Nâu, having cognates as [nyou-de] in Burmese
[7], and [tnaot] in Cambodian [8], all very likely metaphorically linked with
either (a) Khmer word [tnaot] meaning also “palm fruit”, like Cantonese [zung]
for palm tree; Or: (b) ‘Chinese’ word [niao] 鸟meaning Bird, a brown bird,
such as a female ostrich (Đà-Điểu mái), quoted as Chim nâu (brown bird) in
Alexandre de Rhodes’ dictionary [2]. Nâu (Brown) is thus likely of Mon-
Khmer origin and yet also has Chinese connection via [niao]. This can be
reconciled by noting that according to ancient Chinese texts, (proto) Mon
Khmer groups were called the Di – Qiang [1], present almost everywhere in
China, and often associated with the Western Barbarians (Xi Rong / Tây
Nhung). The legendary King Yu, founder of the Xia Dynasty of China, is said
to have Qiang ethnic origin [1]. Nâu, for Brown, also looks metaphorically
related (in sound) to Nai (Deer) and Gấu (Bear), since these two animals
normally have brown-colored skin. The same can be said of a possible link
between Brown & Black with Cow (under the generic term ‘Bos’) and Bear.
Both Cow/Bull (Bos) and Bear normally bear a Brown or Black color.
DISCUSSION
In the foregoing, it has been shown that Vietnamese words used to describe
colors, are mainly derived from metaphors.
In the first instance, color lexicon was generated from observation of object or
phenomenon, that was most typically identified with the color, by declension in
tone, or phonological shift whilst still retaining the initial, consonant being
most common. Examples include: Trắng (White) being the color of Trăng (the
Moon); Đen (Black) or Tối (Dark), color of Đêm or Tối (the night). Đen or
Đêm is equivalent to Thai word [dahm] for “Black”. Mực (Black or Ink), both
in Thai and Vietnamese, is used interchangeably with squid or octopus, which
can eject a black liquid when under stress.
Lexical generation by metaphor can also be made using the metaphor source
from another language or dialect, which in the orthodox way has been
explained in terms of borrowing. Under the Tree-and-Soil approach, however,
metaphor word source is considered to come from one or several other
contributory dialects of the national language, at some period of time in the
past. This is exemplified by the pair Đỏ (Red) and Máu or Huyết (Blood).
Whereas Máu and Huyết (Blood) have many cognates in languages or dialects
in the north, Đỏ as Red has cognates found in Tagalog and Polynesian sources,
meaning Blood itself. This is quite similar to French word “Noir” for Black,
being closer to Italian and Portuguese word for ‘Night’: ‘Notte’ and ‘Noite’,
respectively, than “Nuit” in French.
9
Other characteristics of words for basic colors generated through metaphors
may include:
(a) As life-style, even in ancient times, may change, the original metaphor
could also change with time. For example, word for color Brown in
Cantonese (Hongkong), Vietnamese, and many Asian languages, in the last
century could end up at some places as “Chocolate” color, or “coffee-withmilk”
color.
(b) Metaphor source also may be totally different between neighboring
languages, both sharing a common tongue, being one common substratum
among many, of the languages during formative centuries in the past. This
is the case of Vietnamese use of the Moon compared with Thai use of Rice,
both as metaphor for the color White. This apparent paradox can be
reconciled easily by the present theory, on recognizing the fact that in
ancient times, two different tribes of the same ethnicity may have different
metaphors for the same lexicon, which later on became two different words
for the same connotation or meaning in two neighboring languages, as
exemplified further by a wide range of metaphors and associated lexicon for
other colors, like Brown and Black.
Word generation by metaphor in general has illustrated some thinking process
taking place in the mind of ancient people when a word was first “coined”. It
resulted primarily from observation of a phenomenon, an act, or object, or
living creature, possessing some characteristics or defining features of the
same, or in the vicinity thereof. As it involved some product of the mind of
ancient people, originally, those words generated by shared metaphor, or with
similar metaphorical features may provide a powerful measure to probe into the
mind of ancient people, and to trace, where relevant, the dialect(s) that
contributed to evolutionary formation of a national language, under the present
Tree-and-Soil theoretical formulation (see also [14] and [15]).
An example to illustrate the use of shared metaphorical features taken from
[15] is Mắt Cá, Vietnamese word for “ankle”, where Mắt is Eye, and Cá, often
mistaken for Fish, by its quốc-ngữ spelling (cá) which is identical to word for
Fish. By conventional wisdom therefore, mắt cá at best would be explained as
ancient metaphor for “fish eye”. However, when searching for the “real”
metaphor from other languages or dialects, it can be seen that Mắt Cá (Ankle)
should be correctly interpreted as ‘leg’s eye’, since ‘cá’ is in fact a declension
of ‘cẳng’, from other languages contributing to Vietnamese, such as Hakka
[ka], Tay-Nung [kha], meaning ‘leg’. ‘Mắt cá’ with correct meaning of ‘leg’s
eye’, is supported by word for ‘ankle’ in Gorum (Munda) [maD-jig], and in
Cantonese [goek ngaan] 腳 眼, where [maD] and [ngaan] are words for ‘eye’,
and [jig] and [goek], are simply ‘leg’ or ‘feet’, respectively. In sound ‘mắt cá’ is
10
closely connected with [kwa] Hakka 踝, or [giok kwa] 腳 踝 (Mandarin [jiao
huai]), and [mo?-suG] Remo (Munda), where [mo?] is ‘eye’ and [suG], leg, as
in compound word [maD-jig] in Gorum, or ‘mắt cá’ in Vietnamese [15].
Since there are many other languages or dialects, that have shared metaphorical
features in words for “Ankle” with Vietnamese, while assisting to uncover the
hidden meaning of “Mắt Cá”, it can be identified that in the long past it was
very likely that the Vietnamese language in its formative stage had contribution
from all the languages or dialects above, especially Hakka, Tay Nung and
Munda dialects, under word for “ankle”. When “Mắt Cá” is viewed with other
words shown above for “Peanut” (lạc and đậu phộng), for example, it becomes
more apparent that lexical analysis through metaphor could offer a new and
powerful tool to trace etymology of words hitherto often considered to be
hidden from scrutiny by conventional approaches.
Such metaphorical analysis could also reveal some effects of codification of
Vietnamese by Latin alphabet, which tend to obscure a variety of phonology of
a wide range of vocabulary in the past. Again, consider two Vietnamese words
for Peanut: lạc and đậu phộng, both deriving from metaphor of “nuts”
harvested from plant roots, as both lạc and phộng come from two different
groups of dialects, and have meaning as “Roots”. Lạc is from Tay-Nung
dialect, and Phộng is a quốc-ngữ phonetic transcription of [pông] 本, with
similar sound as [pəng] in Wu, [bun] or [bon] in Cantonese, [ben] in Mandarin,
and [pon] in Sino-Korean, all similarly meaning “Root”. It is noted further that
the “official” Sino-Vietnamese transcription of character 本 [ben] (Mandarin) as
“bổn” under conventional studies also obscures two important aspects of the
present approach: (a) Vietnamese lexicon may have a wide range of thesaurus
meanings, depending on different tones, dialects, and origins. For example,
“bổn” under the traditional framework would have to conform to a “one-word,
one-meaning” regime, denoting “origin” with only one tone, being the hỏi (?)
tone. And (b) The process of standardization of spelling and pronunciation of
words through quốc-ngữ has overshadowed many parallel and intersecting
arrays of sound correspondence between, words of the same meaning, in
different dialects or tongues that contributed to formation of Vietnamese in the
past. The word phộng in “đậu phộng” (peanut), being equivalent to ““bổn”,
and yet under different tone, initial, and ending, could be seen under the present
theory as an end result of alphabet codification taking account of the following
sound correspondences:
(i) Between [ph] Tay-Nung and [b] Vietnamese [13] {phộng <> bổn}:
11
phổng= băng (to cross); phưa= bừa (rake)
(ii) Between [p] Tay-Nung and [v] & [b] Vietnamese {pông <> bổn}:
pỏn= vốn (byốn [2]) (capital); pỏn tỉ= bản (bổn) địa (indigenous)
(iii) Between [ph] Mường and [b] & [v] Vietnamese [11]:
phố vai= vỗ vai (byỗ byai [2]); phửa= bừa (carefree)
(iv) Between [p] Mường and [b] Vietnamese:
pông= bông (flower); pỏng thổi= bóng tối (dark shadow, night time);
pớ lẽ= vỡ lẽ (byỡ lẽ [2]); pền lô= bền lâu (to last long); pĩ= bị (bag)
(v) Between [ông] and [ôn] {phộng <> bổn}:
tông giáo [16] => tôn giáo (religion)
In summary, study of etymology of words in Vietnamese and other neighboring
languages for basic colors, through metaphors as presented here, has shown
consistent results to lend further support to the Tree-and-Soil formulation
which stated that Vietnamese is a historical and evolutionary merger of many
languages and dialects in the region, with a Mon-Khmer substratum mixed with
Thai, Munda, Polynesian and Negrito, superimposed and interwoven with
strata of the ancient Bai Yue (Bách Việt) groups in Southern China.
REFERENCES & NOTES
[1] V.U. Nguyen (Nguyen Nguyen) (2007) Thử đọc lại truyền thuyết Hùng
Vương. [In search of the origin of the Vietnamese]. (in publication).
[2] Alexandre de Rhodes (1651) Dictionarium Annamiticum – Lusitanum –
Latinum. Translated by: Thanh Lãng, Hoàng Xuân Việt, Đỗ Quang Chính. Pub.
By Vien Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi – HCM 1991.
[3] L. V. Hayes (2001) Austric Glossary –

http://home.att.net/~lvhayes/Langling/Glossary/Glospag1/glosf019.htm

[4] Latvian ‘tumsa’ and Lithuanian ‘tamsa’ could be counted as long-distanced
cognates of Mon-Khmer/Viet ‘tăm / tối tăm’, meaning ‘dark, night’. ‘Tối’ itself,
main Vietnamese word for ‘dark, night’, likely has some sound correspondence
with 夕 [xi] Mandarin, [sit] Hakka, {tịch} S-V, OR: 霄 [xiao] M., [seu] or [siau]
H., {tiêu} S-V, or both. Closest to tối and tăm’, and ‘tối tăm’ together, under
etymology and monosyllabic pressure, however would likely be Munda
lexicon: [tOi-gal] and [tam-pagal] in Sora, [Tok] as in [kimi-tok] (dark night)
and [arke-tok] (moonlit night) in Remo and Gutob, and [raTo] in Korku.
[5] CCDICT v5.1.1: Chinese Character Dictionary by Chineselanguage.org
(1995-2006)
[6] Philip M. Parker, INSEAD (2008) Webster’s Online Dictionary with
Multilingual Thesaurus Translation: http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org
[7] Charles Hamblin (1984) Languages of Asia & The Pacific. Angus &
Robertson Publishers. (1988 Paperback Edition).
12
[8] Richard K. Gilbert & Sovandy Hang (2004) Cambodian for Beginners.
Paiboon Publishing.
[9] Hmong word for ‘Brown’: kas fes (coffee).
[10] GERARD MOUSSAY, Nại Thành Bô, Thiên Sanh Cảnh, Lưu Ngọc Hiến,
Đàng Năng Phương, Lưu Quang Sanh, Lâm Gia Tịnh, Trương Văn Tốn (1971).
Tự Điển Chàm-Việt-Pháp (Champa-Vietnamese-French Dictionary). Trung tâm
Văn-hóa Chàm – Phan-Rang.
[11] Nguyễn Văn Khang (editor), Bùi Chỉ, Hoàng Văn Hành (2002) Từ Điển
Mường-Việt {Mường-Vietnamese Dictionary}. Published by Văn Hoá Dân Tộc
– Hà Nội.
[12] Jeffrey Barlow (2005) The Zhuang: A Longitudinal Study of their History
and their Culture. AT:

http://mcel.pacificu.edu/as/resources/zhuang/contents.html

[13] Hoàng Văn Ma – Lục Văn Pảo – Hoàng Chí (1974) Từ Điển Tày – Nùng –
Việt (Tay-Nung-Viet Dictionary). Published by Viện Ngôn Ngữ Học (The
Linguistics Institute).
[14] V. U. Nguyen (2008) Vietnamese Personal Pronouns. (submitted for
publication).
[15] V. U. Nguyen (2008) Body Parts in Vietnamese. (submitted for
publication).
[16] Trần Trọng Kim (1971) Nho Giáo (Confucianism). Published by: Trung
Tâm Học Liệu (Centre for Teaching Materials) – Saigon
[17] Patricia J. Donegan and David Stampe (2004) Munda Lexical Archive.

http://www.ling.hawaii.edu/faculty/stampe/AA/Munda/ETYM/Pinnow&Munda

http://ling.lll.hawaii.edu/faculty/stampe/AA/Munda/Dictionaries/00READ

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BASIC COLORS AND METAPHORS

ABSTRACT: The paper presents a short a study on etymology of words for
basic colors in Vietnamese. It is shown that lexicon of basic colors was derived
mainly through metaphor, which results from observation of a phenomenon, an
object, an act, or a living creature, and its associated or defining features or
characteristics. The process of metaphoring could be undertaken over a period
of time in the past by speakers of many different languages or dialects, that
eventually evolved and merged into the Vietnamese language, modified
through quốc-ngữ codification using Latin alphabet.
***
For a long time, research in the field of linguistic origins, specifically applied
to the Vietnamese language, has been based almost exclusively on the Treeand-
Branch model, which normally is associated with, or results in the
hypothesis of loan words or lexical borrowing applied to cognates between any
two different languages that may, customarily, share the same branch or tree in
language grouping.
Working from the old folklore about the union of Âu Cơ & Lạc Long Quân and
the 18 reigns of King Hùng Vương, Nguyen [1] has developed a new theory on
the origin of the Vietnamese and their language, and demonstrated through
many case examples, using historical, cultural and linguistic data among others,
that Vietnamese is a historical and evolutionary merger of many languages and
dialects. It has a Mon-Khmer substratum mixed with Thai, Munda, Polynesian
and Negrito, superimposed and interwoven with strata of the ancient Bai Yue
(Bách Việt) groups in Southern China, including most notably ancient tongues
in Zhuang, Guangdong, Fujian, Wu (Shanghai-Zhejiang), Hainan, and
reinforced by the Hakka and Miao-Yao (Hmong-Mien) combination (see also
[14] and [15]). The theory is based on a model, tentatively called the Tree-and-
Soil model, whereby most of the lexicon hitherto considered as loan words,
especially in the long past, could be considered to come from languages and
dialects that contributed to evolutionary formation of Vietnamese. It follows
naturally that lexical borrowing would be relegated to a second-order issue. In
the following, this important feature of the theory will be further examined
through investigation of basic colors, in the Vietnamese language, with a view
to getting a better understanding of the mechanics of lexical merger,
particularly through identification of shared metaphors, among different
1
languages or dialects in the formative centuries or millennia, before a singular
and unified language came into being.
Word generation by metaphor
Consider first, some features of lexical generation by metaphor, through
examples surrounding the words “Month” and “Moon”. In many languages, the
word describing the ‘Moon’ is often paired with that meaning ‘Month’, since
‘month’ was conceived very early as one basic cycle of the Moon. For
example: [yue] and [yue] (Chinese), [mah] and [mah] (Persian), [là] and [là]
(Burmese), [bulan] and [bulan] (Malay), [vula] and [vula] (Fijian), [mahina]
and [mahina] (Tongan), [masina] and [masina] (Samoan), [mececev: moon] and
[mesec: month] (Serbo-Croatian), [maan: moon] and [maand: month] (Dutch),
[mane: moon] and [maned: month] (Danish), etc.
In the Vietnamese language, the word for ‘Moon’ came from one compositional
group: Trăng (or ‘blăng’ [2] – similar to ‘Bulan’ in Malay, or ‘tlăng’ in Mường),
and for ‘Month’, from another group: Tháng – compared with: [Thang] in
Fujian, [Căn] for Moon and [Bilan] for Month, in the Champa language [10];
‘La Lune’ (Moon) and ‘Le Mois’ (Month), in French. That is, Month and Moon
are not represented by the same word, in Vietnamese, Chamic, and French. On
examination of neighboring languages, it can be seen that in Vietnamese, Trăng
(Moon) has a cognate ‘Bulan’ in Malay, or ‘tlăng’ in Mường, whereas Tháng
(Month) was most likely derived, as a combination, from Mường [khảng] and
Fujian [Thang] meaning ‘month’ and ‘rising moon’, respectively. Tháng could
also come straight from a Thai word [thaawn], meaning “the moon”. This
would indicate that, metaphorical word pairs in Vietnamese, like French, may
have elements coming from different tongues, both constituting the language as
a whole.
Another word that can be used to illustrate both lexical generation by metaphor
and its complexity is “Kiều”, as in “kiều bào” (expatriates) or “Việt
kiều” (overseas Vietnamese), customarily considered as Sino-Vietnamese in
origin. First “kiều” shares common sound with [kiu] or [k’ieu] in the Hakka
dialect, which in turn is equivalent to [kou]
口 in Mandarin, following the “[iu]-
to-[ou]” phoneme conversion rule among Chinese-BaiYue dialects, as detailed
in [1]. [Kou] is “khẩu” in Vietnamese meaning “mouth” or “Person”. Under
Nôm, khẩu is Miệng or Mồm. The metaphor used here is that “Mouth”
represents “person”, and examples will include: Hộ Khẩu meaning Household
Register listing the names of all persons living in a house; “Nhà này có 3 miệng
ăn” i.e. This household has 3 mouths (persons). Kiều as in kiều bào, denoting a
person residing in a foreign country, is also pronounced similarly as [kiau] in
2
Hakka, and [qiao]
僑 in Mandarin. It is written as 僑 akin to [qiao] 橋
, word for
“bridge”, also called “kiều” or “cầu” (“[iu]-to-[ou]” phoneme conversion), as if
an expatriate was originally a native of one tribe, living in another tribe, as
commonly separated by a bridge.
A word that would best illustrate contribution of ethnic dialects to Vietnamese,
by way of metaphor, is “Peanut” known in Vietnamese as “Lạc” or “đậu
phộng”. “Lạc” and “đậu phộng”, interestingly may appear in different
“forms” but conform to a single metaphor, though under different dialects.
Other names for “Peanut” include “Groundnut” and “Earthnut”, which point to
a metaphor in the English language, denoting that the Nut (or pea) is grown in
the ground or earth, intermingled with, and connected to roots of the plant
(Arachis hypogaea). In the Muong dialect, peanut is also called [lac] like
Vietnamese (northern), but without the nặng accent [11]. Whereas in the Tay-
Nung dialect, which is related to the Zhuang dialect in GuangXi [12], the word
for “Root” is merely “Lạc” [13], identical to Vietnamese “Lạc” for Peanut.
“Đậu phộng” is a term of the southern dialect, also used to denote “peanut”.
“Đậu” means Pea, and “phộng” is a quốc-ngữ phonetic transcription of [pông]
本, with similar sound as [pəng] in Wu, [bun] or [bon] in Cantonese, [ben] in
Mandarin, and [pon] in Sino-Korean, all meaning “Root”, like [lạc] in Tay-
Nung. Similar to the English metaphor “groundnut” or “earthnut”, “phộng”
could be related to [pun] 坋, meaning “earth”, or [pok] 墣, meaning “clod of
earth”, both in Hakka. Thus, Peanut as “Lạc” or “đậu phộng” in Vietnamese is
originally a metaphorical term, denoting its harvest has to go to the roots of the
plant, or down to the earth or soil, itself. It is noted also that the more
commonly-used Vietnamese word “Rễ” for “Root”, came directly from ‘substratum’
Mon-Khmer: [ruih] Khmer, [ré:h] or [rih] or [re:] Pearic, [rơh] Bahnar,
[*rɛs] Proto-Waic, [rɛɛh] Souei, etc. [3].
The present discussion on lexical generation by metaphor will now examine the
etymology of words for basic colors, which in ancient Chinese thought, may
refer to White, Black, Yellow, Red, and Blue (or Green). These 5 colors are
associated with the 5 directions or 5-element in the Five-Element theory: White
goes with West (metal), Black goes with North (water), Blue (or Green) with
East (tree / wood), Red: South (fire), and Yellow: Central region (earth).
White
First, the most popular Vietnamese word for White color is Trắng (màu Trắng).
Under one of the rules of lexical borrowing or Jia Jie (Giả Tá), using tonal
3
change, it can be seen, most likely: Trắng being the color of Trăng, ie. White is
the color of the Moon. Ancient Vietnamese thus employed Trăng with some
declension in tone, to form Trắng describing the color White by using the
Moon as metaphor. Another language that also used the Moon as metaphor for
“White” is the Fijian language, where [vula] is the same word for “Month” and
“Moon”, and duplicative [vulavula] is word for color “White”. It is noted that
[vulavula] is duplicative, possibly because the language is not tonal like
Vietnamese or Thai, and [vula] resembles Malay word ‘bulan’ for Moon and
Month, with labiodental “v” substituting for bilabial “b” as initial.
Vietnamese use of Moon (trăng) for White (trắng) is very similar to the Thai
way of metaphorizing the color White, by describing in olden times, White
being the color of Rice. In Thai, Rice is called [Khaow] (gạo / cơm –
Vietnamese), and White is [Khaow] (Rice) pronounced with a different tone:
[Khãow] {i.e. [Khaow] (Rice) with a falling-rising tone}.
The Thai way of coupling White with Rice is supported by the Chinese word 白
[Bai]-2, which also has another Jia Jie word having different tone 粺 [Bai]-4
meaning ‘white or polished rice’ [5]. Corresponding Vietnamese sound for
[Bai] is Bạch meaning White. However Bạch could also be metaphorically
linked with [Bak] in Mon Khmer [3] or Bạc in Vietnamese, meaning ‘Silver’.
Another word for the color White in Chinese is 精 [jing] with Sino-Vietnamese
form as Tinh as in trắng tinh. Tinh also means ‘polished rice’, and it is
commonly used in compound words like: tinh-trùng (semen), quỷ-tinh (ghost,
having white color). Another word indicating White is 粉 [fen] (Vietnamese:
phấn) [5], also meaning ‘Flour’.
Vietnamese metaphorical use of Trăng (Moon: Bulan (Malay)) for the color
Trắng (White) also seems to have some support from the French language:
BLANC, which bears strong sound similarity to Trăng’s cognate:
‘Bulan’ (Cham & Malay). In the English language also, ‘to blanche’ (as in
‘blanched peanuts’), and ‘bleach’ could be said to be etymologically related to
the French adjective ‘Blanc’ or ‘Blanche’, all metaphorically linked with Malay
word ‘Bulan’ (Moon), over long distances.
Ancient Vietnamese and Thai also seemed to make metaphors out of the Moon
(Tlăng / Trăng) in other instances, like in Vietnamese: Tlòn => Tròn (round,
circular) and Tlổng => Trống (drum) [2] [11], with Thai equivalent [glohm]
and [glawng], respectively.
4
Black
The color Black very often derived its metaphor from ‘night time’, or vice
versa: Đêm (night), giving rise to Đen (Black), or similarly: Tối (night) => màu
Tối (Dark color) (see [4]). In Thai: [see Dam] is Black color, very close to
Vietnamese sắc Đêm or sắc Đen (màu Đêm or màu Đen). It is interesting to
note that a Chinese word for ‘Black’ is 黮, pronounced as [tam] or [tim] in
Hakka, and [taam] in Cantonese, very close to Vietnamese Đêm. The word for
‘Black horse’ is 驔 pronounced as [tim] or [daam] in Cantonese, and [tan] or
[dian] in Mandarin, all very close to Đêm or đen. Đêm (or đen, which
sometimes may be associated with Sậm or Đậm meaning Black, Dark, or
Dense) – with some dialect pronunciation as [Điêm] – and Hakka’s [tam] or
[tim] bear striking similarity in sound with English words: Dim and Dense. In
the Champa language, one word for ‘Black’ is [tăm], with Mon-Khmer
cognates of [təm] or [qitem] or [səm] [3], normally in Vietnamese as compound
word: ‘tối-tăm’ meaning ‘Dark’. While ‘Tối’ meaning Dark and Night, has
traces of Munda ([Toi-gal] Sora) in the substratum mix [17], ‘Tăm’ also has
cognate as *[zəm] or [qudem] in Mon-Khmer [3] [4], [tam-pagal] in Sora
(Munda), and [dahm] in Thai. [Zəm] or [qudem] is close to ‘đậm’, ‘sậm’, ‘đêm’
in Vietnamese. In Chinese: 夜 [Ye] or [Yi], meaning night, and 黟or 黓 [Yi]
meaning ‘dark’, ‘black’ – have similar sounds under Jia Jie. The same sort of
metaphor can be traced in French: Nuit (night) => Noir (black), noting that the
Italian and Portuguese word for ‘Night’ is ‘Notte’ and ‘Noite’, respectively.
There is another Chinese word for Black, called [wu] (Ô or Quạ): 烏
metaphorizing the Crow (Chim Ô). Another Chinese word for ‘Black’ took
metaphor from the black stuff spurting out from an octopus or squid: 墨,
pronounced [mo] or [mei] in Mandarin, and [mak] or [maak] in Cantonese. In
Chinese it refers to ‘black Ink’ or ‘black, dark’. Its sound correspondence in
Thai ([meuk]) and Vietnamese ([mực]), is used to denote ‘Ink’, and ‘Octopus’
or ‘Squid’. This commonality between Thai and Vietnamese will lead to an
introductory remark about the ‘Tree-and-Soil’ model, which would state that
between Thai and Vietnamese, there must be a common constitutive group of
speakers that use the same word [meuk] (mực) to denote both ‘Ink’ and
‘Squid’. Likewise, [Chai] (Thai) or [Xài] (Vietnamese) is used by a common
constitutive group of the two languages to denote BOTH ‘to use’ and ‘to spend
(money)’. Similarly, [Khaow] (Thai) or [Gạo / Cơm] (Vietnamese) is used by
that same, or another, common group of speakers to denote ‘Rice’ or ‘cooked
Rice’, or ‘Meal’.
5
In Korean, the word for ‘Black’ is [komun] sounding very similar to
Vietnamese gỗ mun meaning Ebony or Black-wood. The adjective mun
meaning ‘Black’ customarily is used in collocation with Mèo (cat) as: Mèo
Mun being ‘Black Cat’, having the same initial ‘M’. Other Sino-Vietnamese
words for Black are ‘âm’ 陰 & 隂, pronounced the same in Cantonese: [am], and
the sound is commonly used in Hainan for ‘Black’, though written differently:
晚, referring also to Night time. The word Âm 陰above, meaning Black, is
normally metaphorically linked with ‘Negative’ [yin] (as opposed to ‘Positive’
陽 [yang]).
Yellow
In ancient China, the color Yellow came very early from the metaphor
‘Loess’ {[Huang Tu] / Hoàng Thổ}, being yellow-earth or wind-borne deposits
along the Huang He (Yellow River). Its Chinese pronunciation [Huang] gave
rise to sound correspondence [Wang] or [Wong] in some Chinese dialects and
[Vong] in Hakka and “Vàng” in (northern) Vietnamese. The most significant
Chinese metaphor of [Huang] is ‘Huang Di’ meaning Emperor, originally:
Emperor of the Yellow Land. In English, the word ‘Yolk’ in ‘Egg Yolk’ looks
much metaphorically related to ‘Yellow’, which is described in French as
‘Jaune d’oeuf’.
It is of interest to note that English initial [Y] as in “Yellow” has some
correspondence with French [J] as in “Jaune” (yellow), as exemplified in:
young & jeune, yolk & jaune, yoke & joug, yap & japper, yodel & jodler. Quite
similar to sound correspondence between [Y] in Mandarin (and other Chinese
dialects) and [Z] in Hakka, and between northern pronunciation [Dz] and
southern pronunciation [Y] in initial [D] in Vietnamese. For example:
Character 夜 meaning “Night” is pronounced as [ye] in Mandarin and
Cantonese, but could be as [za] in some Hakka dialects, and [Dzạ] or [Yạ] in
northern or southern Vietnamese dialects, respectively.
Red
There is a strong metaphorical link between the color Red and the first colorful
observation by homo sapiens: ‘Blood’. Main Vietnamese words for ‘Red’ are
Hồng and Đỏ, and for ‘Blood’, Huyết and Máu., and it will be demonstrated in
the following that there is a link between words for “Blood” and “Red” in
Vietnamese.
6
Whereas [hong] means the Sun in the Tai dialect of the Yunnan area, the
‘official’ use of [hong] for Red in Chinese-Vietnamese dictionaries again tend
to obscure the range of thesaurus and etymology of ‘Red’ in both languages.
Interestingly, Huyết and Máu in Vietnamese have cognates in many languages
thousands of miles away, and thousands of years ago. Words similar to [Huyết]
are: (i) 血 pronounced as [xue] in Mandarin, but closer to ‘Huyết’ as [Hiet] in
Hakka, [Hyut] in Cantonese, and almost identical [Huih?] in Fujian, where [?]
is the glottal stop, a sound between [uh] and [oh] when pronouncing ‘uh-oh’
altogether. (ii) ‘Ver’ in Hungarian, ‘Veri’ in Finnish, ‘Gwyar’ and ‘Gwaed’ in
Welsh. Similar to Máu indicating ‘blood’ also, is the word [Mud] of the
Sumerian language, thousands of years ago [6]; and (iii) [Máóhk] of the
Blackfoot Indians in Canada, quite similar to Máu (Blood – Vietnamese), but
denoting “Red” [6].
Words that have meanings interchanged between ‘Red’ and ‘Blood’, and yield
similar sounds to corresponding Vietnamese words, include: (a) ‘Whero’ in
Maori, meaning Red, but with sound similar to Huyết {Blood} in Vietnamese;
(b) ’Wouj’ in Haitian Creole, also meaning ‘Red’; (c) [Hyoraek] in Korean,
meaning ‘Blood’; (d) 艧 [Wok] in Hakka, and [huo] in Mandarin, meaning ‘red
paint’; (e) Vietnamese word for ‘Blood veins’ or ‘Blood pulse’ is Mạch 脈 / 衇
having Chinese dialect sounds [5]: [mak] Hakka, [maak] Cantonese, with some
similar to Máu: [mo]-4 & [mai]-4 Mandarin, [ma?] Wu, [meh] Fujian, and
[meyk] Sino-Korean – indicating that Mạch (veins) is metaphorically similar to
Máu (Blood); (f) Tibetan word for the color Red is: ‘Mah’, again with ‘Mah’
very close to Máu (Blood); AND most interesting: (g) ‘Dugo’ in Tagalog, and
‘Toto’ in Samoan, Tongan, Tahitian, all meaning “Blood” [7].
It is ‘Dugo’ and ‘Toto’ under monosyllabic influence that would turn into ‘Du’
or ‘To’, being most likely sound cognate of Đỏ (màu Đỏ) or ‘Red’ in
Vietnamese. The color Red, Đỏ, in Vietnamese, with metaphor from Polynesian
‘Blood’ (‘Dugo’ and ‘Toto’), is quite consistent with Nguyen’s theory on the
origin of the Vietnamese [1], in that the Polynesians in ancient times
constituted one of the main ethnicities evolving into the modern-day
Vietnamese. It is noted that, as in the case of La Lune and Le Mois in French,
the Vietnamese language derived Đỏ (Red) and Huyết or Máu (Blood) from
different constitutive sources, and different languages, whilst they are all
metaphorically related.
Blue or Green
7
Blue and Green took metaphors mainly from Sky / Sea, and Leaf / Grass,
respectively. Blue color is called xanh da trời (sky blue), xanh dương (ocean
blue) or xanh lam (blue or indigo – [laam]-Cantonese). Green is xanh lục
([luk]-Cantonese), xanh lá cây (leafy green) – which correspond to similar
metaphors in many languages. For example: Irish / Welsh: Glas (with sound
similar to ‘Grass’) meaning ‘Green’ (GRass <=> GReen); Czech: ‘Obloha’
meaning both Sky and Blue [6]. In Chinese, 青 [qing] (thanh – Sino-
Vietnamese) has sound close to: [qian] = sky, and the same sound [qian] written
as 芊means ‘green foliage, green grass’ [5].
Khmer word for “leaf” is [sluhk choe] with [sluhk] quite similar to “lục” in
“xanh lục” for Green”. Word for a kind of leaf in the Hakka dialect is [lo]
荖,
having similar sound to [lo?] in Wu and Sino-Korean for the color Green. In
Thai, “sky blue” is called [faa see], where [faa] means ‘sky’, and [see] is color,
equivalent to Vietnamese ‘sắc’. Burmese word for ‘Green’ is [sein-de], very
close to Vietnamese ‘xanh’. It should be noted that the initial ‘X’ in ‘xanh’
shows a sound correspondence (X <=> Th) between Chinese dialects and
Vietnamese, Burmese and Mon-Khmer varieties. For example: Salween =>
Thalwin (river), both Burmese; [cheng] (Chinese) => thành; rusa (‘deer’ in
Mon-Khmer) => ratha, ritha (Champa); [qing] => xanh = thanh. Sometimes
from afar: French word (le) Singe => Thân (associated with Monkey, being
one of the 12 oriental Zodiac signs).
Brown
A search for metaphors of the color Brown will show that words describing
colors through metaphors, not only may change from one group of speakers to
another, but also could vary with time.
Ancient (northern) Chinese appeared to use the Brown scorpion 蝎 (Mandarin
[he] Cantonese & Hakka [hot]) as metaphor for the Brown color: 褐. Cantonese
at one stage preferred using the Palm Tree 棕 for ‘Brown: 棕色 [zung sik], and
now swapping for coffee color: 啡 色 [fei sik] [9], competing with ‘Chocolate’
in many languages as metaphor for ‘Brown’: [sukkolaa] (Khmer), coklat
(Indonesian), etc. Thai word for ‘Brown’ is [nahm dtahn], which is similar to
words for ‘(brown) sugar’.
8
Vietnamese word for Brown is Nâu, having cognates as [nyou-de] in Burmese
[7], and [tnaot] in Cambodian [8], all very likely metaphorically linked with
either (a) Khmer word [tnaot] meaning also “palm fruit”, like Cantonese [zung]
for palm tree; Or: (b) ‘Chinese’ word [niao] 鸟meaning Bird, a brown bird,
such as a female ostrich (Đà-Điểu mái), quoted as Chim nâu (brown bird) in
Alexandre de Rhodes’ dictionary [2]. Nâu (Brown) is thus likely of Mon-
Khmer origin and yet also has Chinese connection via [niao]. This can be
reconciled by noting that according to ancient Chinese texts, (proto) Mon
Khmer groups were called the Di – Qiang [1], present almost everywhere in
China, and often associated with the Western Barbarians (Xi Rong / Tây
Nhung). The legendary King Yu, founder of the Xia Dynasty of China, is said
to have Qiang ethnic origin [1]. Nâu, for Brown, also looks metaphorically
related (in sound) to Nai (Deer) and Gấu (Bear), since these two animals
normally have brown-colored skin. The same can be said of a possible link
between Brown & Black with Cow (under the generic term ‘Bos’) and Bear.
Both Cow/Bull (Bos) and Bear normally bear a Brown or Black color.
DISCUSSION
In the foregoing, it has been shown that Vietnamese words used to describe
colors, are mainly derived from metaphors.
In the first instance, color lexicon was generated from observation of object or
phenomenon, that was most typically identified with the color, by declension in
tone, or phonological shift whilst still retaining the initial, consonant being
most common. Examples include: Trắng (White) being the color of Trăng (the
Moon); Đen (Black) or Tối (Dark), color of Đêm or Tối (the night). Đen or
Đêm is equivalent to Thai word [dahm] for “Black”. Mực (Black or Ink), both
in Thai and Vietnamese, is used interchangeably with squid or octopus, which
can eject a black liquid when under stress.
Lexical generation by metaphor can also be made using the metaphor source
from another language or dialect, which in the orthodox way has been
explained in terms of borrowing. Under the Tree-and-Soil approach, however,
metaphor word source is considered to come from one or several other
contributory dialects of the national language, at some period of time in the
past. This is exemplified by the pair Đỏ (Red) and Máu or Huyết (Blood).
Whereas Máu and Huyết (Blood) have many cognates in languages or dialects
in the north, Đỏ as Red has cognates found in Tagalog and Polynesian sources,
meaning Blood itself. This is quite similar to French word “Noir” for Black,
being closer to Italian and Portuguese word for ‘Night’: ‘Notte’ and ‘Noite’,
respectively, than “Nuit” in French.
9
Other characteristics of words for basic colors generated through metaphors
may include:
(a) As life-style, even in ancient times, may change, the original metaphor
could also change with time. For example, word for color Brown in
Cantonese (Hongkong), Vietnamese, and many Asian languages, in the last
century could end up at some places as “Chocolate” color, or “coffee-withmilk”
color.
(b) Metaphor source also may be totally different between neighboring
languages, both sharing a common tongue, being one common substratum
among many, of the languages during formative centuries in the past. This
is the case of Vietnamese use of the Moon compared with Thai use of Rice,
both as metaphor for the color White. This apparent paradox can be
reconciled easily by the present theory, on recognizing the fact that in
ancient times, two different tribes of the same ethnicity may have different
metaphors for the same lexicon, which later on became two different words
for the same connotation or meaning in two neighboring languages, as
exemplified further by a wide range of metaphors and associated lexicon for
other colors, like Brown and Black.
Word generation by metaphor in general has illustrated some thinking process
taking place in the mind of ancient people when a word was first “coined”. It
resulted primarily from observation of a phenomenon, an act, or object, or
living creature, possessing some characteristics or defining features of the
same, or in the vicinity thereof. As it involved some product of the mind of
ancient people, originally, those words generated by shared metaphor, or with
similar metaphorical features may provide a powerful measure to probe into the
mind of ancient people, and to trace, where relevant, the dialect(s) that
contributed to evolutionary formation of a national language, under the present
Tree-and-Soil theoretical formulation (see also [14] and [15]).
An example to illustrate the use of shared metaphorical features taken from
[15] is Mắt Cá, Vietnamese word for “ankle”, where Mắt is Eye, and Cá, often
mistaken for Fish, by its quốc-ngữ spelling (cá) which is identical to word for
Fish. By conventional wisdom therefore, mắt cá at best would be explained as
ancient metaphor for “fish eye”. However, when searching for the “real”
metaphor from other languages or dialects, it can be seen that Mắt Cá (Ankle)
should be correctly interpreted as ‘leg’s eye’, since ‘cá’ is in fact a declension
of ‘cẳng’, from other languages contributing to Vietnamese, such as Hakka
[ka], Tay-Nung [kha], meaning ‘leg’. ‘Mắt cá’ with correct meaning of ‘leg’s
eye’, is supported by word for ‘ankle’ in Gorum (Munda) [maD-jig], and in
Cantonese [goek ngaan] 腳 眼, where [maD] and [ngaan] are words for ‘eye’,
and [jig] and [goek], are simply ‘leg’ or ‘feet’, respectively. In sound ‘mắt cá’ is
10
closely connected with [kwa] Hakka 踝, or [giok kwa] 腳 踝 (Mandarin [jiao
huai]), and [mo?-suG] Remo (Munda), where [mo?] is ‘eye’ and [suG], leg, as
in compound word [maD-jig] in Gorum, or ‘mắt cá’ in Vietnamese [15].
Since there are many other languages or dialects, that have shared metaphorical
features in words for “Ankle” with Vietnamese, while assisting to uncover the
hidden meaning of “Mắt Cá”, it can be identified that in the long past it was
very likely that the Vietnamese language in its formative stage had contribution
from all the languages or dialects above, especially Hakka, Tay Nung and
Munda dialects, under word for “ankle”. When “Mắt Cá” is viewed with other
words shown above for “Peanut” (lạc and đậu phộng), for example, it becomes
more apparent that lexical analysis through metaphor could offer a new and
powerful tool to trace etymology of words hitherto often considered to be
hidden from scrutiny by conventional approaches.
Such metaphorical analysis could also reveal some effects of codification of
Vietnamese by Latin alphabet, which tend to obscure a variety of phonology of
a wide range of vocabulary in the past. Again, consider two Vietnamese words
for Peanut: lạc and đậu phộng, both deriving from metaphor of “nuts”
harvested from plant roots, as both lạc and phộng come from two different
groups of dialects, and have meaning as “Roots”. Lạc is from Tay-Nung
dialect, and Phộng is a quốc-ngữ phonetic transcription of [pông] 本, with
similar sound as [pəng] in Wu, [bun] or [bon] in Cantonese, [ben] in Mandarin,
and [pon] in Sino-Korean, all similarly meaning “Root”. It is noted further that
the “official” Sino-Vietnamese transcription of character 本 [ben] (Mandarin) as
“bổn” under conventional studies also obscures two important aspects of the
present approach: (a) Vietnamese lexicon may have a wide range of thesaurus
meanings, depending on different tones, dialects, and origins. For example,
“bổn” under the traditional framework would have to conform to a “one-word,
one-meaning” regime, denoting “origin” with only one tone, being the hỏi (?)
tone. And (b) The process of standardization of spelling and pronunciation of
words through quốc-ngữ has overshadowed many parallel and intersecting
arrays of sound correspondence between, words of the same meaning, in
different dialects or tongues that contributed to formation of Vietnamese in the
past. The word phộng in “đậu phộng” (peanut), being equivalent to ““bổn”,
and yet under different tone, initial, and ending, could be seen under the present
theory as an end result of alphabet codification taking account of the following
sound correspondences:
(i) Between [ph] Tay-Nung and [b] Vietnamese [13] {phộng <> bổn}:
11
phổng= băng (to cross); phưa= bừa (rake)
(ii) Between [p] Tay-Nung and [v] & [b] Vietnamese {pông <> bổn}:
pỏn= vốn (byốn [2]) (capital); pỏn tỉ= bản (bổn) địa (indigenous)
(iii) Between [ph] Mường and [b] & [v] Vietnamese [11]:
phố vai= vỗ vai (byỗ byai [2]); phửa= bừa (carefree)
(iv) Between [p] Mường and [b] Vietnamese:
pông= bông (flower); pỏng thổi= bóng tối (dark shadow, night time);
pớ lẽ= vỡ lẽ (byỡ lẽ [2]); pền lô= bền lâu (to last long); pĩ= bị (bag)
(v) Between [ông] and [ôn] {phộng <> bổn}:
tông giáo [16] => tôn giáo (religion)
In summary, study of etymology of words in Vietnamese and other neighboring
languages for basic colors, through metaphors as presented here, has shown
consistent results to lend further support to the Tree-and-Soil formulation
which stated that Vietnamese is a historical and evolutionary merger of many
languages and dialects in the region, with a Mon-Khmer substratum mixed with
Thai, Munda, Polynesian and Negrito, superimposed and interwoven with
strata of the ancient Bai Yue (Bách Việt) groups in Southern China.
REFERENCES & NOTES
[1] V.U. Nguyen (Nguyen Nguyen) (2007) Thử đọc lại truyền thuyết Hùng
Vương. [In search of the origin of the Vietnamese]. (in publication).
[2] Alexandre de Rhodes (1651) Dictionarium Annamiticum – Lusitanum –
Latinum. Translated by: Thanh Lãng, Hoàng Xuân Việt, Đỗ Quang Chính. Pub.
By Vien Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi – HCM 1991.
[3] L. V. Hayes (2001) Austric Glossary –

http://home.att.net/~lvhayes/Langling/Glossary/Glospag1/glosf019.htm

[4] Latvian ‘tumsa’ and Lithuanian ‘tamsa’ could be counted as long-distanced
cognates of Mon-Khmer/Viet ‘tăm / tối tăm’, meaning ‘dark, night’. ‘Tối’ itself,
main Vietnamese word for ‘dark, night’, likely has some sound correspondence
with 夕 [xi] Mandarin, [sit] Hakka, {tịch} S-V, OR: 霄 [xiao] M., [seu] or [siau]
H., {tiêu} S-V, or both. Closest to tối and tăm’, and ‘tối tăm’ together, under
etymology and monosyllabic pressure, however would likely be Munda
lexicon: [tOi-gal] and [tam-pagal] in Sora, [Tok] as in [kimi-tok] (dark night)
and [arke-tok] (moonlit night) in Remo and Gutob, and [raTo] in Korku.
[5] CCDICT v5.1.1: Chinese Character Dictionary by Chineselanguage.org
(1995-2006)
[6] Philip M. Parker, INSEAD (2008) Webster’s Online Dictionary with
Multilingual Thesaurus Translation: http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org
[7] Charles Hamblin (1984) Languages of Asia & The Pacific. Angus &
Robertson Publishers. (1988 Paperback Edition).
12
[8] Richard K. Gilbert & Sovandy Hang (2004) Cambodian for Beginners.
Paiboon Publishing.
[9] Hmong word for ‘Brown’: kas fes (coffee).
[10] GERARD MOUSSAY, Nại Thành Bô, Thiên Sanh Cảnh, Lưu Ngọc Hiến,
Đàng Năng Phương, Lưu Quang Sanh, Lâm Gia Tịnh, Trương Văn Tốn (1971).
Tự Điển Chàm-Việt-Pháp (Champa-Vietnamese-French Dictionary). Trung tâm
Văn-hóa Chàm – Phan-Rang.
[11] Nguyễn Văn Khang (editor), Bùi Chỉ, Hoàng Văn Hành (2002) Từ Điển
Mường-Việt {Mường-Vietnamese Dictionary}. Published by Văn Hoá Dân Tộc
– Hà Nội.
[12] Jeffrey Barlow (2005) The Zhuang: A Longitudinal Study of their History
and their Culture. AT:

http://mcel.pacificu.edu/as/resources/zhuang/contents.html

[13] Hoàng Văn Ma – Lục Văn Pảo – Hoàng Chí (1974) Từ Điển Tày – Nùng –
Việt (Tay-Nung-Viet Dictionary). Published by Viện Ngôn Ngữ Học (The
Linguistics Institute).
[14] V. U. Nguyen (2008) Vietnamese Personal Pronouns. (submitted for
publication).
[15] V. U. Nguyen (2008) Body Parts in Vietnamese. (submitted for
publication).
[16] Trần Trọng Kim (1971) Nho Giáo (Confucianism). Published by: Trung
Tâm Học Liệu (Centre for Teaching Materials) – Saigon
[17] Patricia J. Donegan and David Stampe (2004) Munda Lexical Archive.

http://www.ling.hawaii.edu/faculty/stampe/AA/Munda/ETYM/Pinnow&Munda

http://ling.lll.hawaii.edu/faculty/stampe/AA/Munda/Dictionaries/00README

13BASIC COLORS AND METAPHORS
V.U. Nguyen
ABSTRACT: The paper presents a short a study on etymology of words for
basic colors in Vietnamese. It is shown that lexicon of basic colors was derived
mainly through metaphor, which results from observation of a phenomenon, an
object, an act, or a living creature, and its associated or defining features or
characteristics. The process of metaphoring could be undertaken over a period
of time in the past by speakers of many different languages or dialects, that
eventually evolved and merged into the Vietnamese language, modified
through quốc-ngữ codification using Latin alphabet.
***
For a long time, research in the field of linguistic origins, specifically applied
to the Vietnamese language, has been based almost exclusively on the Treeand-
Branch model, which normally is associated with, or results in the
hypothesis of loan words or lexical borrowing applied to cognates between any
two different languages that may, customarily, share the same branch or tree in
language grouping.
Working from the old folklore about the union of Âu Cơ & Lạc Long Quân and
the 18 reigns of King Hùng Vương, Nguyen [1] has developed a new theory on
the origin of the Vietnamese and their language, and demonstrated through
many case examples, using historical, cultural and linguistic data among others,
that Vietnamese is a historical and evolutionary merger of many languages and
dialects. It has a Mon-Khmer substratum mixed with Thai, Munda, Polynesian
and Negrito, superimposed and interwoven with strata of the ancient Bai Yue
(Bách Việt) groups in Southern China, including most notably ancient tongues
in Zhuang, Guangdong, Fujian, Wu (Shanghai-Zhejiang), Hainan, and
reinforced by the Hakka and Miao-Yao (Hmong-Mien) combination (see also
[14] and [15]). The theory is based on a model, tentatively called the Tree-and-
Soil model, whereby most of the lexicon hitherto considered as loan words,
especially in the long past, could be considered to come from languages and
dialects that contributed to evolutionary formation of Vietnamese. It follows
naturally that lexical borrowing would be relegated to a second-order issue. In
the following, this important feature of the theory will be further examined
through investigation of basic colors, in the Vietnamese language, with a view
to getting a better understanding of the mechanics of lexical merger,
particularly through identification of shared metaphors, among different
1
languages or dialects in the formative centuries or millennia, before a singular
and unified language came into being.
Word generation by metaphor
Consider first, some features of lexical generation by metaphor, through
examples surrounding the words “Month” and “Moon”. In many languages, the
word describing the ‘Moon’ is often paired with that meaning ‘Month’, since
‘month’ was conceived very early as one basic cycle of the Moon. For
example: [yue] and [yue] (Chinese), [mah] and [mah] (Persian), [là] and [là]
(Burmese), [bulan] and [bulan] (Malay), [vula] and [vula] (Fijian), [mahina]
and [mahina] (Tongan), [masina] and [masina] (Samoan), [mececev: moon] and
[mesec: month] (Serbo-Croatian), [maan: moon] and [maand: month] (Dutch),
[mane: moon] and [maned: month] (Danish), etc.
In the Vietnamese language, the word for ‘Moon’ came from one compositional
group: Trăng (or ‘blăng’ [2] – similar to ‘Bulan’ in Malay, or ‘tlăng’ in Mường),
and for ‘Month’, from another group: Tháng – compared with: [Thang] in
Fujian, [Căn] for Moon and [Bilan] for Month, in the Champa language [10];
‘La Lune’ (Moon) and ‘Le Mois’ (Month), in French. That is, Month and Moon
are not represented by the same word, in Vietnamese, Chamic, and French. On
examination of neighboring languages, it can be seen that in Vietnamese, Trăng
(Moon) has a cognate ‘Bulan’ in Malay, or ‘tlăng’ in Mường, whereas Tháng
(Month) was most likely derived, as a combination, from Mường [khảng] and
Fujian [Thang] meaning ‘month’ and ‘rising moon’, respectively. Tháng could
also come straight from a Thai word [thaawn], meaning “the moon”. This
would indicate that, metaphorical word pairs in Vietnamese, like French, may
have elements coming from different tongues, both constituting the language as
a whole.
Another word that can be used to illustrate both lexical generation by metaphor
and its complexity is “Kiều”, as in “kiều bào” (expatriates) or “Việt
kiều” (overseas Vietnamese), customarily considered as Sino-Vietnamese in
origin. First “kiều” shares common sound with [kiu] or [k’ieu] in the Hakka
dialect, which in turn is equivalent to [kou]
口 in Mandarin, following the “[iu]-
to-[ou]” phoneme conversion rule among Chinese-BaiYue dialects, as detailed
in [1]. [Kou] is “khẩu” in Vietnamese meaning “mouth” or “Person”. Under
Nôm, khẩu is Miệng or Mồm. The metaphor used here is that “Mouth”
represents “person”, and examples will include: Hộ Khẩu meaning Household
Register listing the names of all persons living in a house; “Nhà này có 3 miệng
ăn” i.e. This household has 3 mouths (persons). Kiều as in kiều bào, denoting a
person residing in a foreign country, is also pronounced similarly as [kiau] in
2
Hakka, and [qiao]
僑 in Mandarin. It is written as 僑 akin to [qiao] 橋
, word for
“bridge”, also called “kiều” or “cầu” (“[iu]-to-[ou]” phoneme conversion), as if
an expatriate was originally a native of one tribe, living in another tribe, as
commonly separated by a bridge.
A word that would best illustrate contribution of ethnic dialects to Vietnamese,
by way of metaphor, is “Peanut” known in Vietnamese as “Lạc” or “đậu
phộng”. “Lạc” and “đậu phộng”, interestingly may appear in different
“forms” but conform to a single metaphor, though under different dialects.
Other names for “Peanut” include “Groundnut” and “Earthnut”, which point to
a metaphor in the English language, denoting that the Nut (or pea) is grown in
the ground or earth, intermingled with, and connected to roots of the plant
(Arachis hypogaea). In the Muong dialect, peanut is also called [lac] like
Vietnamese (northern), but without the nặng accent [11]. Whereas in the Tay-
Nung dialect, which is related to the Zhuang dialect in GuangXi [12], the word
for “Root” is merely “Lạc” [13], identical to Vietnamese “Lạc” for Peanut.
“Đậu phộng” is a term of the southern dialect, also used to denote “peanut”.
“Đậu” means Pea, and “phộng” is a quốc-ngữ phonetic transcription of [pông]
本, with similar sound as [pəng] in Wu, [bun] or [bon] in Cantonese, [ben] in
Mandarin, and [pon] in Sino-Korean, all meaning “Root”, like [lạc] in Tay-
Nung. Similar to the English metaphor “groundnut” or “earthnut”, “phộng”
could be related to [pun] 坋, meaning “earth”, or [pok] 墣, meaning “clod of
earth”, both in Hakka. Thus, Peanut as “Lạc” or “đậu phộng” in Vietnamese is
originally a metaphorical term, denoting its harvest has to go to the roots of the
plant, or down to the earth or soil, itself. It is noted also that the more
commonly-used Vietnamese word “Rễ” for “Root”, came directly from ‘substratum’
Mon-Khmer: [ruih] Khmer, [ré:h] or [rih] or [re:] Pearic, [rơh] Bahnar,
[*rɛs] Proto-Waic, [rɛɛh] Souei, etc. [3].
The present discussion on lexical generation by metaphor will now examine the
etymology of words for basic colors, which in ancient Chinese thought, may
refer to White, Black, Yellow, Red, and Blue (or Green). These 5 colors are
associated with the 5 directions or 5-element in the Five-Element theory: White
goes with West (metal), Black goes with North (water), Blue (or Green) with
East (tree / wood), Red: South (fire), and Yellow: Central region (earth).
White
First, the most popular Vietnamese word for White color is Trắng (màu Trắng).
Under one of the rules of lexical borrowing or Jia Jie (Giả Tá), using tonal
3
change, it can be seen, most likely: Trắng being the color of Trăng, ie. White is
the color of the Moon. Ancient Vietnamese thus employed Trăng with some
declension in tone, to form Trắng describing the color White by using the
Moon as metaphor. Another language that also used the Moon as metaphor for
“White” is the Fijian language, where [vula] is the same word for “Month” and
“Moon”, and duplicative [vulavula] is word for color “White”. It is noted that
[vulavula] is duplicative, possibly because the language is not tonal like
Vietnamese or Thai, and [vula] resembles Malay word ‘bulan’ for Moon and
Month, with labiodental “v” substituting for bilabial “b” as initial.
Vietnamese use of Moon (trăng) for White (trắng) is very similar to the Thai
way of metaphorizing the color White, by describing in olden times, White
being the color of Rice. In Thai, Rice is called [Khaow] (gạo / cơm –
Vietnamese), and White is [Khaow] (Rice) pronounced with a different tone:
[Khãow] {i.e. [Khaow] (Rice) with a falling-rising tone}.
The Thai way of coupling White with Rice is supported by the Chinese word 白
[Bai]-2, which also has another Jia Jie word having different tone 粺 [Bai]-4
meaning ‘white or polished rice’ [5]. Corresponding Vietnamese sound for
[Bai] is Bạch meaning White. However Bạch could also be metaphorically
linked with [Bak] in Mon Khmer [3] or Bạc in Vietnamese, meaning ‘Silver’.
Another word for the color White in Chinese is 精 [jing] with Sino-Vietnamese
form as Tinh as in trắng tinh. Tinh also means ‘polished rice’, and it is
commonly used in compound words like: tinh-trùng (semen), quỷ-tinh (ghost,
having white color). Another word indicating White is 粉 [fen] (Vietnamese:
phấn) [5], also meaning ‘Flour’.
Vietnamese metaphorical use of Trăng (Moon: Bulan (Malay)) for the color
Trắng (White) also seems to have some support from the French language:
BLANC, which bears strong sound similarity to Trăng’s cognate:
‘Bulan’ (Cham & Malay). In the English language also, ‘to blanche’ (as in
‘blanched peanuts’), and ‘bleach’ could be said to be etymologically related to
the French adjective ‘Blanc’ or ‘Blanche’, all metaphorically linked with Malay
word ‘Bulan’ (Moon), over long distances.
Ancient Vietnamese and Thai also seemed to make metaphors out of the Moon
(Tlăng / Trăng) in other instances, like in Vietnamese: Tlòn => Tròn (round,
circular) and Tlổng => Trống (drum) [2] [11], with Thai equivalent [glohm]
and [glawng], respectively.
4
Black
The color Black very often derived its metaphor from ‘night time’, or vice
versa: Đêm (night), giving rise to Đen (Black), or similarly: Tối (night) => màu
Tối (Dark color) (see [4]). In Thai: [see Dam] is Black color, very close to
Vietnamese sắc Đêm or sắc Đen (màu Đêm or màu Đen). It is interesting to
note that a Chinese word for ‘Black’ is 黮, pronounced as [tam] or [tim] in
Hakka, and [taam] in Cantonese, very close to Vietnamese Đêm. The word for
‘Black horse’ is 驔 pronounced as [tim] or [daam] in Cantonese, and [tan] or
[dian] in Mandarin, all very close to Đêm or đen. Đêm (or đen, which
sometimes may be associated with Sậm or Đậm meaning Black, Dark, or
Dense) – with some dialect pronunciation as [Điêm] – and Hakka’s [tam] or
[tim] bear striking similarity in sound with English words: Dim and Dense. In
the Champa language, one word for ‘Black’ is [tăm], with Mon-Khmer
cognates of [təm] or [qitem] or [səm] [3], normally in Vietnamese as compound
word: ‘tối-tăm’ meaning ‘Dark’. While ‘Tối’ meaning Dark and Night, has
traces of Munda ([Toi-gal] Sora) in the substratum mix [17], ‘Tăm’ also has
cognate as *[zəm] or [qudem] in Mon-Khmer [3] [4], [tam-pagal] in Sora
(Munda), and [dahm] in Thai. [Zəm] or [qudem] is close to ‘đậm’, ‘sậm’, ‘đêm’
in Vietnamese. In Chinese: 夜 [Ye] or [Yi], meaning night, and 黟or 黓 [Yi]
meaning ‘dark’, ‘black’ – have similar sounds under Jia Jie. The same sort of
metaphor can be traced in French: Nuit (night) => Noir (black), noting that the
Italian and Portuguese word for ‘Night’ is ‘Notte’ and ‘Noite’, respectively.
There is another Chinese word for Black, called [wu] (Ô or Quạ): 烏
metaphorizing the Crow (Chim Ô). Another Chinese word for ‘Black’ took
metaphor from the black stuff spurting out from an octopus or squid: 墨,
pronounced [mo] or [mei] in Mandarin, and [mak] or [maak] in Cantonese. In
Chinese it refers to ‘black Ink’ or ‘black, dark’. Its sound correspondence in
Thai ([meuk]) and Vietnamese ([mực]), is used to denote ‘Ink’, and ‘Octopus’
or ‘Squid’. This commonality between Thai and Vietnamese will lead to an
introductory remark about the ‘Tree-and-Soil’ model, which would state that
between Thai and Vietnamese, there must be a common constitutive group of
speakers that use the same word [meuk] (mực) to denote both ‘Ink’ and
‘Squid’. Likewise, [Chai] (Thai) or [Xài] (Vietnamese) is used by a common
constitutive group of the two languages to denote BOTH ‘to use’ and ‘to spend
(money)’. Similarly, [Khaow] (Thai) or [Gạo / Cơm] (Vietnamese) is used by
that same, or another, common group of speakers to denote ‘Rice’ or ‘cooked
Rice’, or ‘Meal’.
5
In Korean, the word for ‘Black’ is [komun] sounding very similar to
Vietnamese gỗ mun meaning Ebony or Black-wood. The adjective mun
meaning ‘Black’ customarily is used in collocation with Mèo (cat) as: Mèo
Mun being ‘Black Cat’, having the same initial ‘M’. Other Sino-Vietnamese
words for Black are ‘âm’ 陰 & 隂, pronounced the same in Cantonese: [am], and
the sound is commonly used in Hainan for ‘Black’, though written differently:
晚, referring also to Night time. The word Âm 陰above, meaning Black, is
normally metaphorically linked with ‘Negative’ [yin] (as opposed to ‘Positive’
陽 [yang]).
Yellow
In ancient China, the color Yellow came very early from the metaphor
‘Loess’ {[Huang Tu] / Hoàng Thổ}, being yellow-earth or wind-borne deposits
along the Huang He (Yellow River). Its Chinese pronunciation [Huang] gave
rise to sound correspondence [Wang] or [Wong] in some Chinese dialects and
[Vong] in Hakka and “Vàng” in (northern) Vietnamese. The most significant
Chinese metaphor of [Huang] is ‘Huang Di’ meaning Emperor, originally:
Emperor of the Yellow Land. In English, the word ‘Yolk’ in ‘Egg Yolk’ looks
much metaphorically related to ‘Yellow’, which is described in French as
‘Jaune d’oeuf’.
It is of interest to note that English initial [Y] as in “Yellow” has some
correspondence with French [J] as in “Jaune” (yellow), as exemplified in:
young & jeune, yolk & jaune, yoke & joug, yap & japper, yodel & jodler. Quite
similar to sound correspondence between [Y] in Mandarin (and other Chinese
dialects) and [Z] in Hakka, and between northern pronunciation [Dz] and
southern pronunciation [Y] in initial [D] in Vietnamese. For example:
Character 夜 meaning “Night” is pronounced as [ye] in Mandarin and
Cantonese, but could be as [za] in some Hakka dialects, and [Dzạ] or [Yạ] in
northern or southern Vietnamese dialects, respectively.
Red
There is a strong metaphorical link between the color Red and the first colorful
observation by homo sapiens: ‘Blood’. Main Vietnamese words for ‘Red’ are
Hồng and Đỏ, and for ‘Blood’, Huyết and Máu., and it will be demonstrated in
the following that there is a link between words for “Blood” and “Red” in
Vietnamese.
6
Whereas [hong] means the Sun in the Tai dialect of the Yunnan area, the
‘official’ use of [hong] for Red in Chinese-Vietnamese dictionaries again tend
to obscure the range of thesaurus and etymology of ‘Red’ in both languages.
Interestingly, Huyết and Máu in Vietnamese have cognates in many languages
thousands of miles away, and thousands of years ago. Words similar to [Huyết]
are: (i) 血 pronounced as [xue] in Mandarin, but closer to ‘Huyết’ as [Hiet] in
Hakka, [Hyut] in Cantonese, and almost identical [Huih?] in Fujian, where [?]
is the glottal stop, a sound between [uh] and [oh] when pronouncing ‘uh-oh’
altogether. (ii) ‘Ver’ in Hungarian, ‘Veri’ in Finnish, ‘Gwyar’ and ‘Gwaed’ in
Welsh. Similar to Máu indicating ‘blood’ also, is the word [Mud] of the
Sumerian language, thousands of years ago [6]; and (iii) [Máóhk] of the
Blackfoot Indians in Canada, quite similar to Máu (Blood – Vietnamese), but
denoting “Red” [6].
Words that have meanings interchanged between ‘Red’ and ‘Blood’, and yield
similar sounds to corresponding Vietnamese words, include: (a) ‘Whero’ in
Maori, meaning Red, but with sound similar to Huyết {Blood} in Vietnamese;
(b) ’Wouj’ in Haitian Creole, also meaning ‘Red’; (c) [Hyoraek] in Korean,
meaning ‘Blood’; (d) 艧 [Wok] in Hakka, and [huo] in Mandarin, meaning ‘red
paint’; (e) Vietnamese word for ‘Blood veins’ or ‘Blood pulse’ is Mạch 脈 / 衇
having Chinese dialect sounds [5]: [mak] Hakka, [maak] Cantonese, with some
similar to Máu: [mo]-4 & [mai]-4 Mandarin, [ma?] Wu, [meh] Fujian, and
[meyk] Sino-Korean – indicating that Mạch (veins) is metaphorically similar to
Máu (Blood); (f) Tibetan word for the color Red is: ‘Mah’, again with ‘Mah’
very close to Máu (Blood); AND most interesting: (g) ‘Dugo’ in Tagalog, and
‘Toto’ in Samoan, Tongan, Tahitian, all meaning “Blood” [7].
It is ‘Dugo’ and ‘Toto’ under monosyllabic influence that would turn into ‘Du’
or ‘To’, being most likely sound cognate of Đỏ (màu Đỏ) or ‘Red’ in
Vietnamese. The color Red, Đỏ, in Vietnamese, with metaphor from Polynesian
‘Blood’ (‘Dugo’ and ‘Toto’), is quite consistent with Nguyen’s theory on the
origin of the Vietnamese [1], in that the Polynesians in ancient times
constituted one of the main ethnicities evolving into the modern-day
Vietnamese. It is noted that, as in the case of La Lune and Le Mois in French,
the Vietnamese language derived Đỏ (Red) and Huyết or Máu (Blood) from
different constitutive sources, and different languages, whilst they are all
metaphorically related.
Blue or Green
7
Blue and Green took metaphors mainly from Sky / Sea, and Leaf / Grass,
respectively. Blue color is called xanh da trời (sky blue), xanh dương (ocean
blue) or xanh lam (blue or indigo – [laam]-Cantonese). Green is xanh lục
([luk]-Cantonese), xanh lá cây (leafy green) – which correspond to similar
metaphors in many languages. For example: Irish / Welsh: Glas (with sound
similar to ‘Grass’) meaning ‘Green’ (GRass <=> GReen); Czech: ‘Obloha’
meaning both Sky and Blue [6]. In Chinese, 青 [qing] (thanh – Sino-
Vietnamese) has sound close to: [qian] = sky, and the same sound [qian] written
as 芊means ‘green foliage, green grass’ [5].
Khmer word for “leaf” is [sluhk choe] with [sluhk] quite similar to “lục” in
“xanh lục” for Green”. Word for a kind of leaf in the Hakka dialect is [lo]
荖,
having similar sound to [lo?] in Wu and Sino-Korean for the color Green. In
Thai, “sky blue” is called [faa see], where [faa] means ‘sky’, and [see] is color,
equivalent to Vietnamese ‘sắc’. Burmese word for ‘Green’ is [sein-de], very
close to Vietnamese ‘xanh’. It should be noted that the initial ‘X’ in ‘xanh’
shows a sound correspondence (X <=> Th) between Chinese dialects and
Vietnamese, Burmese and Mon-Khmer varieties. For example: Salween =>
Thalwin (river), both Burmese; [cheng] (Chinese) => thành; rusa (‘deer’ in
Mon-Khmer) => ratha, ritha (Champa); [qing] => xanh = thanh. Sometimes
from afar: French word (le) Singe => Thân (associated with Monkey, being
one of the 12 oriental Zodiac signs).
Brown
A search for metaphors of the color Brown will show that words describing
colors through metaphors, not only may change from one group of speakers to
another, but also could vary with time.
Ancient (northern) Chinese appeared to use the Brown scorpion 蝎 (Mandarin
[he] Cantonese & Hakka [hot]) as metaphor for the Brown color: 褐. Cantonese
at one stage preferred using the Palm Tree 棕 for ‘Brown: 棕色 [zung sik], and
now swapping for coffee color: 啡 色 [fei sik] [9], competing with ‘Chocolate’
in many languages as metaphor for ‘Brown’: [sukkolaa] (Khmer), coklat
(Indonesian), etc. Thai word for ‘Brown’ is [nahm dtahn], which is similar to
words for ‘(brown) sugar’.
8
Vietnamese word for Brown is Nâu, having cognates as [nyou-de] in Burmese
[7], and [tnaot] in Cambodian [8], all very likely metaphorically linked with
either (a) Khmer word [tnaot] meaning also “palm fruit”, like Cantonese [zung]
for palm tree; Or: (b) ‘Chinese’ word [niao] 鸟meaning Bird, a brown bird,
such as a female ostrich (Đà-Điểu mái), quoted as Chim nâu (brown bird) in
Alexandre de Rhodes’ dictionary [2]. Nâu (Brown) is thus likely of Mon-
Khmer origin and yet also has Chinese connection via [niao]. This can be
reconciled by noting that according to ancient Chinese texts, (proto) Mon
Khmer groups were called the Di – Qiang [1], present almost everywhere in
China, and often associated with the Western Barbarians (Xi Rong / Tây
Nhung). The legendary King Yu, founder of the Xia Dynasty of China, is said
to have Qiang ethnic origin [1]. Nâu, for Brown, also looks metaphorically
related (in sound) to Nai (Deer) and Gấu (Bear), since these two animals
normally have brown-colored skin. The same can be said of a possible link
between Brown & Black with Cow (under the generic term ‘Bos’) and Bear.
Both Cow/Bull (Bos) and Bear normally bear a Brown or Black color.
DISCUSSION
In the foregoing, it has been shown that Vietnamese words used to describe
colors, are mainly derived from metaphors.
In the first instance, color lexicon was generated from observation of object or
phenomenon, that was most typically identified with the color, by declension in
tone, or phonological shift whilst still retaining the initial, consonant being
most common. Examples include: Trắng (White) being the color of Trăng (the
Moon); Đen (Black) or Tối (Dark), color of Đêm or Tối (the night). Đen or
Đêm is equivalent to Thai word [dahm] for “Black”. Mực (Black or Ink), both
in Thai and Vietnamese, is used interchangeably with squid or octopus, which
can eject a black liquid when under stress.
Lexical generation by metaphor can also be made using the metaphor source
from another language or dialect, which in the orthodox way has been
explained in terms of borrowing. Under the Tree-and-Soil approach, however,
metaphor word source is considered to come from one or several other
contributory dialects of the national language, at some period of time in the
past. This is exemplified by the pair Đỏ (Red) and Máu or Huyết (Blood).
Whereas Máu and Huyết (Blood) have many cognates in languages or dialects
in the north, Đỏ as Red has cognates found in Tagalog and Polynesian sources,
meaning Blood itself. This is quite similar to French word “Noir” for Black,
being closer to Italian and Portuguese word for ‘Night’: ‘Notte’ and ‘Noite’,
respectively, than “Nuit” in French.
9
Other characteristics of words for basic colors generated through metaphors
may include:
(a) As life-style, even in ancient times, may change, the original metaphor
could also change with time. For example, word for color Brown in
Cantonese (Hongkong), Vietnamese, and many Asian languages, in the last
century could end up at some places as “Chocolate” color, or “coffee-withmilk”
color.
(b) Metaphor source also may be totally different between neighboring
languages, both sharing a common tongue, being one common substratum
among many, of the languages during formative centuries in the past. This
is the case of Vietnamese use of the Moon compared with Thai use of Rice,
both as metaphor for the color White. This apparent paradox can be
reconciled easily by the present theory, on recognizing the fact that in
ancient times, two different tribes of the same ethnicity may have different
metaphors for the same lexicon, which later on became two different words
for the same connotation or meaning in two neighboring languages, as
exemplified further by a wide range of metaphors and associated lexicon for
other colors, like Brown and Black.
Word generation by metaphor in general has illustrated some thinking process
taking place in the mind of ancient people when a word was first “coined”. It
resulted primarily from observation of a phenomenon, an act, or object, or
living creature, possessing some characteristics or defining features of the
same, or in the vicinity thereof. As it involved some product of the mind of
ancient people, originally, those words generated by shared metaphor, or with
similar metaphorical features may provide a powerful measure to probe into the
mind of ancient people, and to trace, where relevant, the dialect(s) that
contributed to evolutionary formation of a national language, under the present
Tree-and-Soil theoretical formulation (see also [14] and [15]).
An example to illustrate the use of shared metaphorical features taken from
[15] is Mắt Cá, Vietnamese word for “ankle”, where Mắt is Eye, and Cá, often
mistaken for Fish, by its quốc-ngữ spelling (cá) which is identical to word for
Fish. By conventional wisdom therefore, mắt cá at best would be explained as
ancient metaphor for “fish eye”. However, when searching for the “real”
metaphor from other languages or dialects, it can be seen that Mắt Cá (Ankle)
should be correctly interpreted as ‘leg’s eye’, since ‘cá’ is in fact a declension
of ‘cẳng’, from other languages contributing to Vietnamese, such as Hakka
[ka], Tay-Nung [kha], meaning ‘leg’. ‘Mắt cá’ with correct meaning of ‘leg’s
eye’, is supported by word for ‘ankle’ in Gorum (Munda) [maD-jig], and in
Cantonese [goek ngaan] 腳 眼, where [maD] and [ngaan] are words for ‘eye’,
and [jig] and [goek], are simply ‘leg’ or ‘feet’, respectively. In sound ‘mắt cá’ is
10
closely connected with [kwa] Hakka 踝, or [giok kwa] 腳 踝 (Mandarin [jiao
huai]), and [mo?-suG] Remo (Munda), where [mo?] is ‘eye’ and [suG], leg, as
in compound word [maD-jig] in Gorum, or ‘mắt cá’ in Vietnamese [15].
Since there are many other languages or dialects, that have shared metaphorical
features in words for “Ankle” with Vietnamese, while assisting to uncover the
hidden meaning of “Mắt Cá”, it can be identified that in the long past it was
very likely that the Vietnamese language in its formative stage had contribution
from all the languages or dialects above, especially Hakka, Tay Nung and
Munda dialects, under word for “ankle”. When “Mắt Cá” is viewed with other
words shown above for “Peanut” (lạc and đậu phộng), for example, it becomes
more apparent that lexical analysis through metaphor could offer a new and
powerful tool to trace etymology of words hitherto often considered to be
hidden from scrutiny by conventional approaches.
Such metaphorical analysis could also reveal some effects of codification of
Vietnamese by Latin alphabet, which tend to obscure a variety of phonology of
a wide range of vocabulary in the past. Again, consider two Vietnamese words
for Peanut: lạc and đậu phộng, both deriving from metaphor of “nuts”
harvested from plant roots, as both lạc and phộng come from two different
groups of dialects, and have meaning as “Roots”. Lạc is from Tay-Nung
dialect, and Phộng is a quốc-ngữ phonetic transcription of [pông] 本, with
similar sound as [pəng] in Wu, [bun] or [bon] in Cantonese, [ben] in Mandarin,
and [pon] in Sino-Korean, all similarly meaning “Root”. It is noted further that
the “official” Sino-Vietnamese transcription of character 本 [ben] (Mandarin) as
“bổn” under conventional studies also obscures two important aspects of the
present approach: (a) Vietnamese lexicon may have a wide range of thesaurus
meanings, depending on different tones, dialects, and origins. For example,
“bổn” under the traditional framework would have to conform to a “one-word,
one-meaning” regime, denoting “origin” with only one tone, being the hỏi (?)
tone. And (b) The process of standardization of spelling and pronunciation of
words through quốc-ngữ has overshadowed many parallel and intersecting
arrays of sound correspondence between, words of the same meaning, in
different dialects or tongues that contributed to formation of Vietnamese in the
past. The word phộng in “đậu phộng” (peanut), being equivalent to ““bổn”,
and yet under different tone, initial, and ending, could be seen under the present
theory as an end result of alphabet codification taking account of the following
sound correspondences:
(i) Between [ph] Tay-Nung and [b] Vietnamese [13] {phộng <> bổn}:
11
phổng= băng (to cross); phưa= bừa (rake)
(ii) Between [p] Tay-Nung and [v] & [b] Vietnamese {pông <> bổn}:
pỏn= vốn (byốn [2]) (capital); pỏn tỉ= bản (bổn) địa (indigenous)
(iii) Between [ph] Mường and [b] & [v] Vietnamese [11]:
phố vai= vỗ vai (byỗ byai [2]); phửa= bừa (carefree)
(iv) Between [p] Mường and [b] Vietnamese:
pông= bông (flower); pỏng thổi= bóng tối (dark shadow, night time);
pớ lẽ= vỡ lẽ (byỡ lẽ [2]); pền lô= bền lâu (to last long); pĩ= bị (bag)
(v) Between [ông] and [ôn] {phộng <> bổn}:
tông giáo [16] => tôn giáo (religion)
In summary, study of etymology of words in Vietnamese and other neighboring
languages for basic colors, through metaphors as presented here, has shown
consistent results to lend further support to the Tree-and-Soil formulation
which stated that Vietnamese is a historical and evolutionary merger of many
languages and dialects in the region, with a Mon-Khmer substratum mixed with
Thai, Munda, Polynesian and Negrito, superimposed and interwoven with
strata of the ancient Bai Yue (Bách Việt) groups in Southern China.
REFERENCES & NOTES
[1] V.U. Nguyen (Nguyen Nguyen) (2007) Thử đọc lại truyền thuyết Hùng
Vương. [In search of the origin of the Vietnamese]. (in publication).
[2] Alexandre de Rhodes (1651) Dictionarium Annamiticum – Lusitanum –
Latinum. Translated by: Thanh Lãng, Hoàng Xuân Việt, Đỗ Quang Chính. Pub.
By Vien Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi – HCM 1991.
[3] L. V. Hayes (2001) Austric Glossary –

http://home.att.net/~lvhayes/Langling/Glossary/Glospag1/glosf019.htm

[4] Latvian ‘tumsa’ and Lithuanian ‘tamsa’ could be counted as long-distanced
cognates of Mon-Khmer/Viet ‘tăm / tối tăm’, meaning ‘dark, night’. ‘Tối’ itself,
main Vietnamese word for ‘dark, night’, likely has some sound correspondence
with 夕 [xi] Mandarin, [sit] Hakka, {tịch} S-V, OR: 霄 [xiao] M., [seu] or [siau]
H., {tiêu} S-V, or both. Closest to tối and tăm’, and ‘tối tăm’ together, under
etymology and monosyllabic pressure, however would likely be Munda
lexicon: [tOi-gal] and [tam-pagal] in Sora, [Tok] as in [kimi-tok] (dark night)
and [arke-tok] (moonlit night) in Remo and Gutob, and [raTo] in Korku.
[5] CCDICT v5.1.1: Chinese Character Dictionary by Chineselanguage.org
(1995-2006)
[6] Philip M. Parker, INSEAD (2008) Webster’s Online Dictionary with
Multilingual Thesaurus Translation: http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org
[7] Charles Hamblin (1984) Languages of Asia & The Pacific. Angus &
Robertson Publishers. (1988 Paperback Edition).
12
[8] Richard K. Gilbert & Sovandy Hang (2004) Cambodian for Beginners.
Paiboon Publishing.
[9] Hmong word for ‘Brown’: kas fes (coffee).
[10] GERARD MOUSSAY, Nại Thành Bô, Thiên Sanh Cảnh, Lưu Ngọc Hiến,
Đàng Năng Phương, Lưu Quang Sanh, Lâm Gia Tịnh, Trương Văn Tốn (1971).
Tự Điển Chàm-Việt-Pháp (Champa-Vietnamese-French Dictionary). Trung tâm
Văn-hóa Chàm – Phan-Rang.
[11] Nguyễn Văn Khang (editor), Bùi Chỉ, Hoàng Văn Hành (2002) Từ Điển
Mường-Việt {Mường-Vietnamese Dictionary}. Published by Văn Hoá Dân Tộc
– Hà Nội.
[12] Jeffrey Barlow (2005) The Zhuang: A Longitudinal Study of their History
and their Culture. AT:

http://mcel.pacificu.edu/as/resources/zhuang/contents.html

[13] Hoàng Văn Ma – Lục Văn Pảo – Hoàng Chí (1974) Từ Điển Tày – Nùng –
Việt (Tay-Nung-Viet Dictionary). Published by Viện Ngôn Ngữ Học (The
Linguistics Institute).
[14] V. U. Nguyen (2008) Vietnamese Personal Pronouns. (submitted for
publication).
[15] V. U. Nguyen (2008) Body Parts in Vietnamese. (submitted for
publication).
[16] Trần Trọng Kim (1971) Nho Giáo (Confucianism). Published by: Trung
Tâm Học Liệu (Centre for Teaching Materials) – Saigon
[17] Patricia J. Donegan and David Stampe (2004) Munda Lexical Archive.

http://www.ling.hawaii.edu/faculty/stampe/AA/Munda/ETYM/Pinnow&Munda

http://ling.lll.hawaii.edu/faculty/stampe/AA/Munda/Dictionaries/00READ

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