The Language of Colours

LargeColourEyeAs you walk out into a sunny summer day and take a look around at your surroundings you notice only a couple white puffy clouds plodding along the deep blue sky up above. The bright yellow sun warms your skin and lights up all the life that is around you. From the green of leaves on the trees and the grasses to the many polka dots of colours that fill up the gardens up ahead it seems that there are all the colours of the rainbow in your sights. There are the red roses and many coloured tulips, the blue forget-me-nots and the purple of the lavender. So many colours flooding in through your eyes there are even irises that match yours in colour.

The eye is a magnificent thing.

The eye itself is comprised of a many different parts that all work in conjunction to allow us to see the world. It is the most complex part of the human body and many would argue the most beautiful. And poets have described the eyes as a gateway to the soul. The different parts of the eye allow light in and allow us to perceive objects in our environment. With that perception we can determine the objects colour, distance, size and other differentiating details. After light has entered the eye and it has been processed into an image the mind uses that information to base actions and thoughts.

But did you know that the language you speak effects how you see colours?

In a journal titled; “Language, Learning, and Color Perception” by Emre Özgen the argument is made that language plays a role in colour perception and differentiation.

Colours themselves are processed categorically when they make their way through the mind and these categories are partially determined by the languages we speak. Some languages for example Russian and Greek have two colours for blue. They differentiate between light and dark blue and therefore perceive them as different. While on the other hand the Maldivian language has only one word for both green and blue meaning that they perceive the two colours as different forms of the same thing.

These colour names not only occur in the words in the language itself but also in the mental categories themselves. These categories effect our perceptions of colours. So when you step out into a sunny summer day like the one described think about all the colours that you see and try to imagine what someone else may see if they saw the same thing.

If you want to check out colour names in other languages click here:

Vying for the Language Throne

If you are planning on doing business in some other country or just planning on some travelling and you can speak English you can be confident that there will be someone who understands the language. This is because English is the global language.

But will it always remain this way or will some other language take hold of the throne?

Before we look ahead at the potential new world language let’s first look back at how English got to occupy the throne.

There are a couple reasons why English became the world leader and most have to do with being in the right place at the right time. But the main reason has to do with the empires that spoke the language throughout history. Up until the 1920’s the British Empire was the largest empire in history and they pushed the English language as a way of assimilating their colonies into the British Commonwealth. As they took over more and more territory they taught people how to speak the language and this was later snowballed with the emergence of the United States as a world power. Over the next many years the United States grew to become the world’s financial powerhouse. This happened at a time when the world’s economies were becoming intertwined and globalization was starting to take the world by storm. Hence, right place right time.

In the end this resulted in what we have today; around a billion people who speak English in over a hundred countries. But even with all that, English is not the world’s largest language.  That honour goes to Chinese and the many dialects that comprise the language. While Chinese is not the global language does this mean that it may take over control as the world’s global language?

Probably not. The Chinese language, unlike the English language is made up of many different dialects that are more often than not referred to as different languages. But if we look strictly at the largest dialect, Mandarin the issue with this language is that it is not as widespread throughout the world as that of English. It is very centralized within its own base. But with the growth of the Chinese economy this could change

So what else is there?

French has some potential. In a study by Natixis it was shown that we may see a resurgence in the French language and that it may even retake the global language throne which it used to sit upon. The argument for this is that since French has found a home in many countries which are the fastest growing economies such as the many counties in sub-Saharan Africa when their economies grow the French language will also grow. Although the language will be growing in terms of total speakers it is unlikely that it will spread as far as the English language because of the strength of the many other languages that already have a large base throughout the world.

So nothing will change then?

While there are many other languages that could become the next global language it still seems that English is in pretty good standing. With many other countries starting to teach English at a younger age and pushing it as a second language it does not seem like it is going anywhere. But with all the factors that go into making a language go global, it is all speculation as to what language will hold the throne in the future. Maybe we will see a new language come into play that does not exist right now or maybe it will be some obscure language.

What do you think the language of the future will be?

The Ever Changing Face of Language

Let me set the scene for you:

Some people are going out on the town for a night and they are all ready to head out when one person says, “Hold on, let me take a selfie for Facebook real quick.” Now in today’s world that statement would not be viewed as odd or out of place at all. But, if we reverse the clock 14 years ago the same friends would respond not with words but a look that expresses utter confusion. This is because 14 years ago neither the word selfie nor Facebook existed.
If we take a quick look at the language we speak today we would quickly realize that the language that we speak has evolved to become something different then its former self. In a way it has become a new language within itself. The question is why?

The first and most obvious answer would be technology. As we have developed new technologies to meet the demands of the ever growing world population we have had to develop new words to express what the technology is. In some situations like the internet a snowball effect exists where one invention creates a landslide of new words that people have to incorporate into their word database which in turn creates other words.

Not only has technology added new words to our language but it has also changed what some words mean as discussed in a short article called, Has technology evolved our language beyond recognition?

Now what else affects our language? If we take a look at some new words that have been added to the dictionary you will see a lot of new words from a couple of distinct areas, technology (Which we have already discussed), modern culture, and social media

Although there are three supposed areas that represent the roots of the change in language they all fit together. Social media is the tie that brings both sides together. While there are names for technology and names for new cultural developments or shifts in colloquialisms, social media is a combination of the two and is the cause of such words as selfie and tweet. Words from social media come from the cultural application of new technologies.

So keep taking your selfies with your Galaxy or iPhone because the languages that we speak will continue to evolve as long as we keep developing new technologies and have cultures which change and adapt to the technologies.