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Oranges are orange

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viegasbennett
913647.  Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:30 pm Reply with quote

In Series H: Hoax, Stephen emphatically stated that it is wrong to describe oranges as orange in colour and that in the countries where they grow they are actually green. This is simply not true, however loud the klaxon was.

I live in Portugal, have orange trees of two different varieties and know that an orange is only ripe for picking when every last tinge of green has been replaced by orange and when it comes away from the branch easily with a twist. In 25 years I have never come across edible green oranges anywhere here or in Spain. If there is such a variety it is unheard of by any Portuguese people I know and I'm sure would be a surprise to the Spanish too.

That they are green when unripe is a completely fatuous observation. They are not identified as oranges - a food - when they are unripe and inedible. If you insist on such a misleading level of pedantry, refer to unripe (green) oranges as "proto-oranges" or just "unripe oranges".

That there are some exceptional varieties such as blood oranges does not mean it is wrong to describe oranges by their colour: these exceptions are exactly described by their surprisingly "un-orange" colour. If more than 90% of oranges are orange in colour then it is neither incorrect nor misleading to say "oranges" are orange in colour, at least in normal, non-botanically technical discourse.

The Portuguese for the colour, "Cor de laranja" (and similar in Spanish), did not enter the language by some bizarre mass attack of colour blindness or wilful ignorance - the vast majority of ripe oranges are orange in colour.

Or are we to ban sky blue, cherry red, rose, pea green, blood red, lemon yellow, grass green and so on because each of these physical manifestions of the colour described may occasionally, or in special states, show exceptions to the general rule? That is misuse of the conventions of normal, non-technical language, not to say common sense.

 
CB27
913650.  Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:00 pm Reply with quote

I forgot about this bit, and I have to admit I was concerned at the time about the klaxon, but not because oranges are only green when unripe.

Firstly, there are plenty of varieties of oranges, and there is some variety to the shades of colour as well. Majority can be described as orange when they are ripe to be picked, though there are plenty which will retain some green patches, or be completely green and still be ripe, it's all to do with the variety and the weather conditions.

As a teenager I spent some time on kibbutzes, and I remember the oranges being picked, and depending on the time of the year and the weather, they sometimes needed to go through a process of being gassed to speed up the change of colour from green to orange.

To say oranges are green when on the tree is wrong, because most change colour while still on the tree, but there are some that don't.

I'd have to see the show (or a transcript) to see exactly what was said.

 
viegasbennett
913678.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:36 am Reply with quote

I accept your observations - it's the distortion of linguistic convention that I disagree with. It is understood in conventional usage that oranges are orange because the vast majority of ripe oranges are.

An un-orange orange in, say, a market, is something most people, including in orange-growing places, would see as an exception, to be qualified with "oh it's a blood orange" or "it's not ripe"

Stephen said "it is not true that oranges are orange" and I believe that is a misuse of language, as well as factually misleading. He suggested, with an accompanying photograph of green-skinned but orange-fleshed fruit, that oranges are typically or even always green when picked for eating and only later (perhaps with gas) turn orange because of our expectations.

In normal discourse, we do not understand the phrase "oranges are orange" to mean "all varieties of oranges are always orange in all circumstances" because then almost any sensible, everyday factual assertion would be wrong. What we mean, again in non-technical or non-philosophical language is "in the vast majority of cases, oranges for eating, are orange." In normal discourse we have to point out the exceptions "blood oranges, unripe oranges etc".

In short, it is clearly wrong to say that apples are red - there are so many common varieties which are not - it is not wrong or even misleading to say that oranges are orange. It is definitely misleading to say, as did Stephen, that oranges are not orange.

 
Posital
913679.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:48 am Reply with quote

Agreed. This was the most bogus piece of nonsense I'd ever heard on QI.

The pickers probably pick them early for the market, and then have to do something to make them look fully ripe.

This is why many oranges taste so bland off the shelves here...

Having said that, in mexico, many of the oranges sold in the street were a mixture of green and yellow (but mostly yellow)... and no-one gave a monkey's... the only thing that's actually orange is a mandarin!!

I just asked a mexican why aren't oranges orange - and they just shrugged as being one of life's mysteries...

 
Arcane
913681.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:54 am Reply with quote

Can it also be noted that Mr Fry reads out the lines; rather than attacking him for being wrong, perhaps you could take this issue up with the elves and whoever undertakes the research?

This happens time and time again... "Stephen was wrong!!" "He stated this and it was incorrect....". He does not supply the research, he is the host of the show.

 
Posital
913683.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:01 am Reply with quote

But then, Mr Fry doesn't say "It says on this card that...". Mr Fry is culpable, and should at least have an opinion on the colour of oranges and adjust his tone appropriately.

Otherwise we could get Sarah Palin to host the show...

 
Arcane
913684.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:28 am Reply with quote

Why is he culpable? Are you saying that he should research everything that is put in front of him? Exactly how much in advance does he know what he will be saying? You're surely not saying that Mr Fry should be the face and responsibility of others research when he is clearly the presenter... How many quiz type shows have their research entirely provided by the presenter who takes all credit for that research?

I can't think of one.

 
PDR
913691.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:08 am Reply with quote

Arcane wrote:
How many quiz type shows have their research entirely provided by the presenter who takes all credit for that research?

I can't think of one.


Whilst the questions themselves are provided by others Paxo claims that he spends hours researching around each question on University Challenge so that (a) he can judge what is actually a correct answer; (b) he can throw in related remarks and (c) he can be seriously patronising towards the deliverers of incorrect answers (his words).

PDR

 
Arcane
913693.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:12 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
Arcane wrote:
How many quiz type shows have their research entirely provided by the presenter who takes all credit for that research?

I can't think of one.


Whilst the questions themselves are provided by others Paxo claims that he spends hours researching around each question on University Challenge so that (a) he can judge what is actually a correct answer; (b) he can throw in related remarks and (c) he can be seriously patronising towards the deliverers of incorrect answers (his words).

PDR


We don't get University Challenge here. :(

 
Efros
913705.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:47 am Reply with quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyaIO8LWZqQ

Will give you a flavour.

Fry on University challenge.

 
Posital
913708.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:16 am Reply with quote

Arcane wrote:
Why is he culpable? Are you saying that he should research everything that is put in front of him?
If he's a wise chap, and can't personally verify what's on the card, then he shouldn't pretend he knows. Unlike the aforementioned Paxman.

 
Efros
913710.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:19 am Reply with quote

Unfortunately Fry does have a tendency to utter absolute drivel on topics he is not too well informed about.

/hides

 
Arcane
913721.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:06 am Reply with quote

double post.


Last edited by Arcane on Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:08 am; edited 1 time in total

 
Arcane
913722.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:07 am Reply with quote

I do remember University Challenge from when I was living in the UK. Two desks that were displayed above each other and a lot of people with very bad hair who wore a lot of brown. It was the 70's after all! I remember it being terribly serious and very competitive, and I really used to enjoy watching it (I would have been younger than 10 years old). I was a right nerd.

That, and Mastermind. Never forget that introduction..."ba ba ba ba baaaaaa...... BA BA!"

 
suze
913731.  Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:40 am Reply with quote

Arcane wrote:
It was the 70's after all! I remember it being terribly serious and very competitive, and I really used to enjoy watching it (I would have been younger than 10 years old). I was a right nerd.


It really was terribly serious in those days. The music question was always about classical music, the visual question was always about fine art, and Bamber Gascoigne (Eton and Cambridge) was frightfully posh.

It appeared sporadicly on Canadian television, so I saw it perhaps a dozen times in my childhood. Loved it, but didn't know anyone else who did.

Paxman's version of the show is rather more accessible - but while they have questions about popular culture these days and some of the visual questions (in particular) are a bit silly, they haven't ruined it by making the questions easy.

As for the thing about the teams being shown on screen one above the other, that is still done. For one season only, the show used a set where the teams really were one above the other.


Arcane wrote:
That, and Mastermind. Never forget that introduction..."ba ba ba ba baaaaaa...... BA BA!"


Mastermind too was retired for a few years, but has since returned to British television. Magnus Magnusson had retired and has since died, so the presenter now is a grumpy Welsh journalist called John Humphrys (real name Desmond Humphrys, but Desmond is a footballer's name). The questions on that show these days are rather easier than they used to be.

 

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