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:

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