What Color is this? in 9 languages
August 30, 2012 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Four years ago, we showed English language speakers random colors and asked for the color names. Four years later, with CrowdFlower contributors now in every country of the world, the experiment becomes much richer.
posted by Foci for Analysis (17 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
It would seem that people can't even agree on what's black: if you mouse to the centre then you'll find a spot that everyone agrees is black, except for the Japanese who mysteriously call it 'off black'.
posted by Monkeymoo at 4:00 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was ist ein guter Name für diese Farbe?

Naturregenwaldnachmittagsgrün


Oh, German. You never disappoint.
posted by gurple at 4:07 PM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


British English name for what everybody else seems to call 'brown': Government Brown.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:17 PM on August 30, 2012


Apparently Flat Fat Green = Mean Sea Green.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:19 PM on August 30, 2012


Is there any way to input a colour and get the nearest names to it? I was looking for something to do that the other day when I couldn't decide whether to call something turquoise.
posted by lucidium at 4:24 PM on August 30, 2012


The Japanese have a color called "Yellow Skin Color"? What do "flesh" crayons look like over there?

As a Yellow-American I am highly amused.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 4:31 PM on August 30, 2012


There are so many luscious, buried poems in these descriptions that I completely forgot it was a color wheel. The Asian languages have the best descriptors of so many of them.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:29 PM on August 30, 2012


When I get down the nitty gritty, I've got yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, red, brown, and black. All colors can fit into these categories. Plum is a form of purple, burgundy is a form of red, etc. When winnowed down to these basic colors, I am amazed that over half of the color wheel is assigned to my blue and green while the rest are diced into much finer terms.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:47 PM on August 30, 2012


For a very, very long time, the colours blue and green were the colours of survival. Those colours are effectively embedded in your most ancient DNA.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:10 PM on August 30, 2012


Orangies Brown English translation: Poo.

Points for honesty, I suppose.
posted by barnacles at 7:22 PM on August 30, 2012


I wonder how well the demographic (especially male vs female) differences correlates with XKCD's experiment?
posted by porpoise at 7:45 PM on August 30, 2012


yes and there is baby poo brown. I approve.
posted by wilful at 8:03 PM on August 30, 2012


Color name in English: "Smoked out green"
EN Translation: "Sand"

???
posted by polymath at 8:28 PM on August 30, 2012


What about the mustard yellow baby poo?
posted by BlueHorse at 11:01 PM on August 30, 2012


five fresh fish: For a very, very long time, the colours blue and green were the colours of survival. Those colours are effectively embedded in your most ancient DNA.
Um, citation? What does that even mean?

Red is the color of high-calory food (meat), injury, and many fruits; humans do seem to have an involuntary reaction to red colors (or at least Westerners do). But blue & green?
posted by IAmBroom at 11:43 AM on August 31, 2012


When I get down the nitty gritty, I've got yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, red, brown, and black. All colors can fit into these categories. Plum is a form of purple, burgundy is a form of red, etc. When winnowed down to these basic colors, I am amazed that over half of the color wheel is assigned to my blue and green while the rest are diced into much finer terms. - Foam Pants

I'm guess you already know this, but different cultures/languages do this differently--that is, different cultures divide the specture into different sets of "basic" colors. The variability seems to follow a pattern (e.g., if a language only identifies one basic color beyond light and dark, that color is probably "red"). Here's new theory about this.

Here's something from that article that seems related, although it might just be a different way of saying the same thing that Foam Pants said (rather than an explanation): "For colour, our physiology influences this process, picking out some parts of the spectrum as more worthy of a distinct term than others. The crucial factor is how well we discriminate between similar colours—we do that most poorly in the red, yellowish green and purple-violet parts (we can’t distinguish reds as well as we can blues, for example)."
posted by agog at 2:29 PM on August 31, 2012


IAB: It doesn't mean anything. Keeping that in mind, life started in the blue waters and when it crawled out into the dry, green vegetation is where it lived, not the brown deserts, grey rocks, and white snow. Repeat: this does not mean anything.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:00 PM on August 31, 2012


« Older See which U.S. presidential candidates you side wi...  |  Bill Brent was the publisher o... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments