World Transformation: Color Cognition
 Color Cognition
picture 20 Apr 2004 @ 06:43, by ming

From Ming the Mechanic: 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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