Particularly, I speak Russian as well as English. In Russian, we actually have two separate words for blue: one for light blue and one for dark blue. They are completely different colors. My idea was that this actually changes how Russians view colors as compared to English speakers. Good to see my idea has some scientific backing :).
I personally am in a particularly odd position: I learned Russian first but still learned English at a very young age (5) and have since used it more. I'm not entirely certain how this has affected my view of blue, but I think I see it more like English speakers (e.g. not differentiating between the two blues intuitively) than Russian speakers. This probably says something about my relative comfort in the two languages.
Another interesting thing is that for the longest time I did not even realize that the difference was so fundamental. I just took it in stride. When I thought about it, it was a little weird: there is actually a different set of colors (rather than just shades of color) in the two languages. The fact that I could go from one set to the other without noticing is rather interesting as well.
To me this seems completely foreign, which is an interesting insight on how much I take my language for granted. I can't even imagine thinking of blue and green as the same color, just like most Russians can't imagine thinking of синий and голубой as the same color (blue).
While I was brought up in a Russian family (we still speak Russian at home), I went to an English school from the first grade, so for me the difference between синий and голубой is much less ingrained than the difference between blue and green. I think this just shows that while Russian is my first language, English has really become dominant, for better or for worse.
"According to Brent Berlin and Paul Kay's 1969 study Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution, distinct terms for brown, purple, pink, orange and grey will not emerge in a language until the language has made a distinction between green and blue. In their account of the development of color terms the first terms to emerge are those for white/black (or light/dark), red and green/yellow."
Winawer, J., Witthoft, N., Frank, M. C., Wu, L., Wade, A., & Boroditsky, L. (2007). The Russian blues: Effects of language on color discrimination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 7780-7785.
Moreover, if you make people do a verbal task at the same time -- say, repeating a word aloud -- it makes this effect go away; but having people do a spatial task at the same time doesn't.
Thanks for the reference anyhow :).
I initially thought you were referring to what we call "celeste"  in Spanish but after looking it up in the dictionary I found out that is not an entirely different color after all. "celeste" is actually defined in terms of blue, and I quote:
"1. loc. adj. azul más claro." which translates to "a lighter blue"
Could it be the same in Russian?
Looking around a bit, I found an interesting paper on the exact topic I was thinking about. It turns out that the exact difference does affect color recognition, but the effect is "eliminated by a verbal, but not a spacial, dual task".
Of course, I think this is really the same effect as in the original article. The only reason it's important for me is that I experience it directly by knowing both languages.
I agree. I can only think of one use, and it goes the other way - a red / orange colour called pink. English huntsmen wear "Hunting Pinks".
We use two different color names for dark and lighter blue in my language two.
But I find it hard to believe that Russians consider them "completely different colors".
Red and Green are completely different. Black and white. Orange and purple. The two colors for "blue" variations? Not so much.
And surely Russians can understand that, even if they consider the two different colors by name, because it's inherent in the concept of darker/lighter, or shades, etc.
(see also the answer of "cema", below).
I would guess that a Russian painter for example instinctively uses the exact same process of obtaining the two hues of blue from primary colors as a British painter...
As a foreigner I kept confusing them cause they do not map directly over the red names I know. I am _still_ not sure if darkness is all there is to the difference.
For instance - I challenge anyone reading this to tell me what colours are not represented well on their screen. The spectrum is wide and 3 channels is really 'tolerable' rather than 'good' coverage. In reality there is a vast range of violets, reds and green-yellow-orange in the world that are represented as muddy-blurs of other colours rather than themselves on screen...
Nobody seems to make the same fuss over quality of colour and the visual spectrum on computers as say, audiophiles do about miniscule differences in what they hear. I'm not quite sure why this is.
A and B are exactly the same RGB color, even though they appear completely different.
So in truth, yes, the LCD spectrum is limited, but you can still achieve an overall "look and feel" regardless of the smaller gamut. Our perception of any specific color is dominated by other colors around it in the scene.
The "because we can't enjoy color differences as much" part, not so much, if ever.
Its a slightly different point to 'enjoying colour differences', which of course we do. Compare a sunset in real life (even behind a window) with that in a photo - for instance....
It could not be light as such though. It could be warmth from the sun that makes people depressed when not exposed to sunlight, or vitamin deficiency (some vitamins need sunlight to be usable).
Perhaps any HN Arabic grammarians might be able to discuss this further.
Language is not the only thing to train this difference. Hobbies and jobs should be able to as well. I suspect artists and photographers perceive subtle color gradations better than non artists; audiophiles, dancers, and musicians can pick out tempo and pitch much more readily, blind people can pick out echo patterns, engineers perceive catastrophic corner cases where normal people see an idea and a botanist sees a whole world where I just see grass and trees.
Much of 'evolutionary psychology' is based on really complicated mathematical models fit to very small samples, or no sample at all, expanded upon by lengthy blocks of meandering prose.
Just-so stories are a literary genre, not a science.
A lot to digest in this article. The quote above reminded me of 'categorical perception' of musical notes among musicians (without perfect pitch) and the rest of us. Professional musicians seem to 'bin' frequencies near a tone centre into notes with sharp divisions between them.
Also, English may have only 11 “basic” colour categories, but there are loads more colour words than that, and you can get basically as specific as you like.
I also have a suspicion that I’m a tetrachromat, because I distinguish various red-orange colours that no one else seems to. Since I’m male, though, that would only be possible if I had two X chromosomes and the right mutations on both sides of my family—possible, but unlikely.
I suppose, for one thing, that it depends on whether we want to describe colors we often see in life (lots of blue sky, not many purple things) or the spectrum of colors evenly for looking at art.
A different way of doing it are systems like Pantone that has no particular mathematical model; Pantone basically numbers swatches according to some arcane formula and can work with you to precisely reproduce any color you happen to want. If you want a color that isn't represented in their swatches they'll just add another one to the end of the list and do something horribly complex behind the scenes so they can tell you, or more likely your ink vendor, what to look for and what an acceptable color match is. These swatches are frequently named as well as numbered; somewhere on that list is Coca-Cola red, and you don't get to use it. This leads into a bunch of very strange IP law issues that I am not in any way able to talk about knowledgeably.
CIELAB and CIEXYZ are reference color spaces designed to encompass every color an average human can see, and these can be used to define the above standards. CIELAB is probably the best known of these. One of the odder things about CIELAB is that there are colors in gamut for it that no human can see (for example, a color that stimulates only the medium wavelength cone cells).
As a matter of professional practice people who care about this use Pantone PMS references. Photographers, particularly digital ones, tend to just use sRGB or Adobe RGB and look at you funny when you talk about Lab spaces. And virtually no one else cares enough to distinguish between pinkish red and reddish pink in a formal way.
The name "Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis" may not literally appear but the whole article is obviously about it:
This question goes back to an idea by the American linguist Benjamin Whorf, who suggested that our language determines how we perceive the world.
There have been other recent discoveries in favor of the hypothesis posted here as well. I've felt for a long time that Sapir-Whorf will be rehabilitated; it doesn't make sense that something so fundamental as language wouldn't have cognitive effects.
Also, they screwed up producing the video. The first time they show the green squares, the different one is in the top left. The second time, it's in the top right.
Koreans are familiar with the colors yeondu and chorok. An English speaker would call them both green (yeondu perhaps being a more yellowish green). But in Korean it’s not a matter of shade, they are both basic colors. There is no word for green that includes both yeondu and chorok.
Wouldn't that be chartreuse?
In the video, the Tribe need to see the difference between greens because they must know the difference between a poison leaf and a one good.
Each culture evolves to name the important things to them