Color and Language
During my senior year at Savannah College of Art and Design, I took Language, Culture and Society with Désiré Houngues. Two cultural insights about language stuck with me. In some societies men and women speak with entirely different vocabularies but still communicate verbally with one another. The second was that some languages only have two words for color, white and black (light and dark); if a language includes a third color, it is always red. This led me to research by Brent Berlin, an anthropologist, and Paul Kay, a linguist. They made the first hypothesis about how color terms enter a language in a certain order. Later, I came across the World Color Survey, which was established in an effort to continue research into Berlin and Kay’s hypothesis. The WCS makes their data available to the public, and I found that this was exactly what I needed to help answer my many questions. The result of the WCS data exploration is below, where about 800,000 individual color chips are grouped by the terms used to describe them.