This really isn’t that fantastic a rant but I told myself to write at least 2 blog posts a week for CMEL.
I had this thought a few years ago:
I was walking home from school in Yr 8 I think it was, and it was around the time when Pokemon came out with FireRed and LeafGreen.
I remember that this caused my friend’s (apparently non-Pokemon literate) sister some confusion. We explained that FireRed and LeafGreen were revamps of the original Pokemon games for the GBA, so they’re essentially the same game but it looks better and a few more features, right?
Then she asked, “But weren’t the originals Red and Blue?”
I answered, “In Japan, when the games first came out, they had Red and Green. For some reason when the US picked it up, they changed Green to Blue. Obviously for the remake they decided to go back to green.”
She asked, “What difference does it make, apart from the fact that Blastoise got replaced with Venusaur?” (She didn’t actually say the names. She said “the big turtle thing with the water hose”, and “the big plant monster”.)
And at that point, the Yr 8 me started going off on a tangent about the meaning of words. My friend and his sister got very bored very quickly, but I think I’ll explain what I ranted about, to the extent that I remember:
There really isn’t that much of a difference aside from the fact that at the start you now get to choose Green as your name instead of Blue. Everything else is pretty much the same – the same Pokemon are available and inversely unavailable on LeafGreen as it was on Blue. So, really, it was just some stupid choice in words and colors.
I wondered (out loud), what got people to choose the words “blue” and “green”. My grandparents used to mix the words “blue” and “green” together (in Chinese) when describing something that is colored blue, and something that is colored green. Mostly, they use “green”. So for example, the grass is green, and my blue sweater is “green”. There probably is a historical/linguistic reason behind why older generation Chinese people do this, but I don’t know it.
Now, there is obviously a difference between “blue” and “green”. Blue is the color of the dashboard on this blog (unless of course you changed it) and green is what trees would look like if Melbourne left the drought. But why are there two different words (we say two, but let’s not argue over cerulean and celadon – yes, more Pokemon references) for these two different colors? Obviously my grandparents went through the better part of their lives differentiating between water and grass using the word “green”, so it’s not like the world will implode if we bunched those two together. And yet in school, Naiads, the blue house of water nymphs never cheered for Dryads, the green house of tree nymphs – or, for a much better metaphor, Ravenclaw never cheered for Slytherine. We would have been mortified if someone said that the blue house and the green house were “the green house” (especially the blue house).
We differentiate between these colors with our words because we want to, not because we need to. It makes life easier and more varied if we have two different words for what obviously can be a mixed concept. I know you’re probably thinking “yeah but if we say the ocean is green, we’re in for an environmental disaster and not doing anything about it” but that’s because you grew up being told the ocean is normal when it’s “blue”, and if it’s “green” it’s dirty. But we have words for “contaminated water” so it is feasible that we can go through life knowing the water is “green” but not to go in if it’s “contaminated”.
Anyway I want to get my 8 hours’ of sleep so I’m heading off. See how much thought Pokemon can provoke?
P.S. Title has almost no relevance to the blog, which isn’t a great idea.
I will try my hardest to incorporate Pokemon into anything.