Language Alter Ego

Perception of colours across languages

The perception of colours can vary across languages due to differences in how languages categorize and name colors. This phenomenon is known as "linguistic relativity" or the "Sapir-Whorf hypothesis," which suggests that the language we speak can influence our perception and cognition.

Blue in Russian: The Russian language traditionally uses two words: "голубой" (goluboy) to refer to light blue and "синий" (siniy) to refer to dark blue, while English uses only one term for blue just describing its shades as "light blue" and "dark blue."

Black and White in Chinese: In Mandarin Chinese, the word "黑色" (hēisè) is used to describe both "black" and "dark colors" in general, including dark blue and dark green. Similarly, "白色" (báisè) is used for both "white" and "light colors" in general, including light blue and light green.

Pink in Japanese: The Japanese language has a specific word for the colour pink, "ピンク" (pinku), borrowed from English. However, before the introduction of the word "pinku," the Japanese language used the word "桃色" (momoiro) to describe the colour of cherry blossoms, which we now associate with the colour pink.

Red and Orange in Korean: Korean has a single word, "빨간색" (ppalgansaek), which is used to refer to both "red" and "orange." This means that the colour that English speakers perceive as orange is categorized under the same term as red in Korean.

Blue and Green in Vietnamese: The Vietnamese language uses one word, "xanh," to describe both "blue" and "green" colours. Different shades of blue and green are distinguished using additional adjectives or descriptors.

These examples illustrate how different languages may group colours differently and how the distinctions made in colour naming can influence colour perception and categorization. The specific colours and distinctions found in each language reflect the linguistic and cultural contexts in which they are used.