Why Red Means Red in Almost Every Language

When Paul Kay, then an anthropology graduate student at Harvard University, arrived in Tahiti in 1959 to study island life, he expected to have a hard time learning the local words for colors. His field had long espoused a theory called linguistic relativity, which held that language shapes perception. Color was the “parade example,” Kay [...]

By |2019-10-06T23:59:27+00:00October 6th, 2019|Colors, Language|0 Comments

Do You See What I See?

In a Candoshi village in the heart of Peru, anthropologist Alexandre Surrallés puts a small colored chip on a table and asks, “Ini tamaara?” (“How is it?” or “What is it like?”). What Surrallés would like to ask is, “What color is this?” But the Candoshi, a tribe of some 3,000 people living on the [...]

By |2019-04-10T00:18:29+00:00April 10th, 2019|Colors, Language|0 Comments

Languages don’t all have the same number of terms for colors – scientists have a new theory why

People with standard vision can see millions of distinct colors. But human language categorizes these into a small set of words. In an industrialized culture, most people get by with 11 color words: black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, brown, orange, pink, purple and gray. That’s what we have in American English. Maybe if you’re [...]

By |2017-09-19T13:23:55+00:00September 19th, 2017|Colors, Languages|1 Comment

How different languages came up with words for colors

It is striking that English color words come from many sources. Some of the more exotic ones, like “vermilion” and “chartreuse,” were borrowed from French, and are named after the color of a particular item (a type of mercury and a liquor, respectively). But even our words “black” and “white” didn’t originate as color terms. [...]

By |2016-11-17T16:25:32+00:00November 17th, 2016|Colors, Languages, Words|0 Comments

Unusual Condition Lets People See Sign Language in Colors

People who use sign language can experience synesthesia, a rare condition that mixes sensory information from different sources, causing people to see letters in certain colors, or taste words, a new study finds. The study is the first to document synesthesia among sign language users, the researchers said. The people in the study reported that [...]

By |2016-07-19T17:23:50+00:00July 19th, 2016|Colors, Sign language, Synesthesia|0 Comments