Here’s a fascinating look at linguistic research, and how different cultures develop different words for colors. The questions are not about how different color names translate between languages, but instead which colors get names at all. As languages develop, they seem to add color names in a certain order, starting with black and white, then red, then green/yellow, and then others. It’s not clear why this is consistently the case, but there’s perhaps something universal in the human brain that drives how we develop language.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He serves on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.

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3 Thoughts on "Words for Colors"

Thank you! Very apropos to my online shopping experience today trying to ascertain whether or not I wanted to purchase a coat listed as ‘caviar’ color.

Uh-oh. If you want to start a fight in a psychology department, just bring up this subject (then duck for cover!).

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