Colourful language

Published on: Jan 08, 2019

Colourful language

We seldom consider how something as seemingly universal as colour could be classified differently to what we are used to. 

This insightful video from Vox sheds some light on the stark variations; English has eleven basic colours, whereas Russian has twelve and certain languages such as Wobe has only three.

Possibly the most interesting aspect is that regardless of how many colours are used in a language, it is possible to predict their hierarchy. Languages with only three colour words would have black, white and red. If four colour terms were present they tended to be black, white, red and either green or yellow. Languages with six basic terms had black, white, red, green, yellow and blue.

So despite the many differences between countries and cultures, it's fascinating that there are still universal aspects of human perception and identifiaction of the world around us.