But what is the story with all these 'beige' words, creeping up towards the threshold of basicness?
coming in closely behind 'fuchsia'. In early drafts of Gormenghast, Sepulchrave's daughter was variously called Biege, Bayzh and Baigzh, until Mervyn Peake's family called his attention to the inconstancy, so he changed it. Not many people know that.
So let us venture back into the unmapped, branching and often hazardous corridors of Memory, walking steadfastly and looking straight ahead without so much as glancing at certain firmly-boarded doors -- and soon we reach 1987. And here are Boynton and Olson, writing about a lacuna in colour space, in which a Terra Incognita of chromatic nomenclature might fit. Evidently 'beige' was not a word then:
Sturges and Whitfield replicated their work in 1995, and suddenly Beige was there on the radar!
Russian BluesWhat had happened in the intervening eight years? My theory is that someone called the attention of Cold Warriors in the Reagan administration to the existence, in Russian, of two words for Blue -- синий and голубой, dark and light blue. And there was thumping of fists on the table. "Mr. President, we must not allow a colour vocabulary gap!" So a new word was chosen and the message went out to pundits and thought leaders to drop it casually into columns & conversations.
Once the addition was entrenched in English, the familiar process of Morphogenetic Resonance made it so much easier for other languages to develop in the same direction.
Data courtesy of Dr Mari Uusküla of the Institute of the Estonian Language.
The Eastern Bloc continues to lead! Belarusian and Ukrainian have the two versions of blue (sini / synij plus 'light blue' blakitny / blakytnyj) but according to Hippersley's data from 2001 they have also adopted Beige. Those, like Russian, are from the Eastern Slavic family of languages. Unfortunately there is no evidence that Czech (from the Western Slavic family) has two Basic 'blue' words; otherwise "Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue" would be available as the title for a paper.
Obama let America lose the Colour Vocabulary race!