Ming the Mechanic:
Color Cognition

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Color Cognition2003-11-30 15:54
picture by Flemming Funch

Relating to the preceeding posting, there's an article today in the NY Times about Color Cognition, referencing various studies of differences in color perception between people speaking different languages, using different distinctions.
Literary Welsh has no words that correspond with green, blue, gray or brown in English, but it uses others that English speakers don't (including one that covers part of green, part of gray and the whole of our blue). Hungarian has two words for what we call red; Navajo, a single word for blue and green but two words for black. Ancient Greek's emphases on variables like luminosity (as opposed to just hue) led some scholars to wonder seriously whether the culture at large was colorblind.
The conclusions seem to be that, sure, we can all see all the colors (if we aren't physically color-blind), whether we have words for them or not. But we make better distinctions if we have words for them, and we therefore have trained ourselves in noticing those distinctions. Nothing particularly surprising in that. But apparently it is part of an ongoing argument between Universalists that say that we all essentially see the same world around us, and Relativists that say that we all see different worlds, shaped by what we've learned.

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Other stories in
2014-09-27 00:04: You must be an expert by now
2014-09-26 15:15: Brevity
2011-11-06 21:33: Counting what counts
2011-01-23 13:46: Authenticity
2010-08-23 01:31: Semantic Pauses
2010-06-27 02:28: Doubt
2009-10-25 17:04: Opinions, perceptions and intuition
2009-10-15 08:32: Abstraction
2008-06-29 16:47: Complicated and Complex
2008-02-20 16:39: The universe as a virtual reality

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