What Color Is That? The Answer Depends On the Language You Speak
2013 06 07

By Daniel Albright, MA | BrainBlogger



Color has long been one of the battlegrounds in psycholinguistics — this dates back to 1969 or earlier, when Brent Berlin and Paul Kay’s book Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution was published and struck what appeared to be a deathblow to the idea that the language a person speaks affects how that person thinks (known as linguistic relativity). But over forty years later, color is still a hot topic.

Categorical perception is the idea that perception is affected by the categories that are present in a language. When discussing color, this is critical. For example, we have 11 basic color terms in English, and a single word for the color blue. However, in Russian there are 12 basic terms, and two words that bisect the color space that we call ‘blue’. They have siniy, which corresponds to a darker blue, and goluboy, which corresponds to a lighter blue. Greek also has two words for blue. Korean has 15 basic color terms. These are examples of the different categories of color that are embedded in language.

It turns out that there are cognitive repercussions of long-term use of these different color categories. By using a timed color discrimination task, researchers showed that Russian speakers do actually think about color differently to English speakers (in short, they were able to distinguish between colors that crossed the siniy / goluboy boundary much more quickly, providing evidence that language has a direct effect on perception – a cognitive process once considered to be totally dissociable from language).

Another study suggested that the truth is even more complicated. This study looked at the hemispheric lateralization of categorical color perception and linguistic effects on it. Because language is primarily processed in the left side of the brain, and each visual hemifield is perceived by the contralateral cerebral hemisphere (i.e. the right side of the brain receives information from the left optic nerve), the authors reasoned that color perception in the right visual hemifield might be more affected by language than that in the left visual hemifield. Their results confirmed their hypothesis, showing that the functional organization of the brain plays a role when it comes to linguistic mediation of perception.

[...]

Read the full article at: brainblogger.com



Related Articles
Color Meditations: Nurture Your Chakras and Expand Consciousness
Holi: India’s Festival of Colors
Take Off Your Inverted Spectrum Glasses: Color’s True Charm is in the Brain
Brazil’s Carnival erupts in an explosion of colour as millions thunder through the streets
We DON’T all see the same colours scientists say
Growing up with a black and white TV ’makes you less likely to dream in colour’
Synesthesia - Numberphile


Latest News from our Front Page

Gov’t Fear Factory: ISIS Is Here, Just in Time for Another 9/11 Anniversary
2014 08 23
The government has been doing a whole lot of talking lately about the 9/11-style threat ISIS poses on American soil, how ISIS is like ’nothing the Pentagon has ever seen’ and how ISIS is likely already here... and all just in time right before another 9/11 anniversary! Fancy that. Considering it’s on record where ISIS got a lot of its military ...
France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms
2014 08 22
President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that France had delivered weapons to rebels battling the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad “a few months ago.” The deliveries took place “a few months ago, when the Syrian rebels had to face both the armies of the dictator Bashar al-Assad and this terrorist group Islamic State,” Hollande told reporters on a tour of the ...
Brooklyn DA exposes hidden Child Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Jewish Community
2014 08 22
Comment: We all know that the sex abuse cases within the Catholic church have been plastered all over the media in the last 6-8 years, but when do you ever hear about the rapes, sexual molestation and child sex abuse cases within the jewish orthodox community? Is the media helping to cover it? Will they give the same treatment of ...
California’s Economic Collision Course: Immigration and Water
2014 08 22
You have heard it before: “As California goes, so goes the nation.” If that is the case, the national economy will be harmed for decades to come because of California’s misplaced priorities today. Indeed, by emphasizing high-speed rail over water and failing to deal with its debt crisis, California poses a long-term threat to our national economy and ...
ISIS offered to swap Foley for ’Lady Al Qaeda’ - neuroscientist MIT-graduate
2014 08 21
An MIT-educated neuroscientist terrorist known as ’Lady al Qaeda’ was named on a ’laundry list’ of demands from ISIS captors holding James Foley named, it was revealed today. Petite mother-of-three Aafia Siddiqui is currently serving 86 years in a Texas jail after being arrested with plans for a ’mass casualty attack’ in the US, including infecting people with Ebola and a ...
More News »