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The surprising pattern behind color names around the world

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Why so many languages invented words for colors in the same order. Subscribe to our channel! http://goo.gl/0bsAjO In 1969, two Berkeley researchers, Paul Kay and Brent Berlin, published a book on a pretty groundbreaking idea: that every culture in history, when they developed their languages, invented words for colors in the exact same order. They claimed to know this based off of a simple color identification test, where 20 respondents identified 330 colored chips by name. If a language had six words, they were always black, white, red, green, yellow, and blue. If it had four terms, they were always black, white, red, and then either green or yellow. If it had only three, they were always black, white, and red , and so on. The theory was revolutionary — and it shaped our understanding of how color terminologies emerge. Read more on the research mentioned in this video: Cook, Kay, and Regier on the World Color Survey: goo.gl/MTUi9C Stephen C. Levinson on Yele color terms: goo.gl/CYDfvw John A. Lucy on Hanunó'o color terms: goo.gl/okcyC3 Loreto, Mukherjee, and Tria on color naming population simulations: goo.gl/rALO1S To learn more about how your language's color words can affect the way you think, check out this video lecture: goo.gl/WxYi1q Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app. Check out our full video catalog: http://goo.gl/IZONyE Follow Vox on Twitter: http://goo.gl/XFrZ5H Or on Facebook: http://goo.gl/U2g06o
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Text Comments (5001)
Icey Black (23 hours ago)
Ardi Azra Rumy (1 day ago)
In Sundanese sometimes you called blue color "green",.. and you called green color "green" so I think there's no blue,..
Eric B (2 days ago)
It is not that amazing as it follows the wavelength sensitivity of the human eye. First you see light intensity (light vs. dark) then the red light cones, then green and finally, and most weakly, the blue. The named colors follow the sensitivity range of the eye. The naming of colors follow a sense of awareness to colors. This also ties into language. It is not that these people do not see these colors, it is just that they only need name them as they see them.
Mackaneek (2 days ago)
5:24 do the words "sky" and "ocean" mean anything to you?
Clorox Bleach (2 days ago)
Polish words for colours: Biały - White Czarny - Black Czerwony - Red Zielony - Green Niebieski - Blue Żółty - Yellow Różowy - Pink Fioletowy - Purple Pomarańczowy - Orange Szary - Grey Brązowy - Brown Granatowy - Dark Blue Bordowy - Dark Red Błękitny - Light Blue Ciemny - Dark Jasny - Light Złoty - Gold Srebrny - Silver Platynowy - Platinium We also call very bright and reflective colours as 'żarówiasty', np. żarówiasty żółty - very bright, fluorescent yellow.
good guy #001 (3 days ago)
Jules Brags (4 days ago)
I'm a Filipino who knows 4 different sublanguages in the country, but never knew this hanunuo thing.
McMatthew99 (6 days ago)
How do we keep out more specific color names, like turquoise or magenta? Or has our language evolved far enough that these terms are accepted as well? Is the path of color naming exponential, then?
ConceptHut (6 days ago)
Can't you go one video without things being about racism or sexism or some other nonsense? Sheesh.
Sanggyun Kang (6 days ago)
It is interesting. If one looks up to the sky, all one can see is blue. Still, it seems red bears much significant a meaning - blood, life,... hence, it comes first.
Na Byeon (6 days ago)
the video says the language the researchers got in PHL was Tagalog but they then discussed Hanuno'o, which is, yes, very far from the former.
Ian Ókami (7 days ago)
i said Darkgraycian graypurple soilbrown but im gay
Liliya Leto (8 days ago)
Even though in Russian language 12 number of basic colours, we have different names for shades of colours. For example from light green to dark green. And we have names for “cold” and “warm” shapes. It was really surprising for me to discover that in English language only one name for all of the shades. But even more surprising was that English speaking people couldn’t tell difference, they would just say “it’s green”. “Well, not exactly, sir!”
Hagan Shabba (8 days ago)
What about the sky? It’s blue and super abundant
music 4u (11 days ago)
Yasir Irshad (13 days ago)
Wow.. quality content 👌👌
Kodiak Express (16 days ago)
this guy sounds like the biggest soyboy
pustelnikk (16 days ago)
It wouldn't be a vox video without mentions of racism
gia efsta (17 days ago)
i know ancient greek and modern greek are very different, but i didn’t expect the color names to be THAT different 🤭
Rahul Dhargalkar (20 days ago)
Also we need more such content Vox!
Rahul Dhargalkar (20 days ago)
This is for those who are bashing the video for the "blue" colour. FYI, Blue as a "pigment" (please google the term - pigment) is very rare in nature and life has evolved only a few times to MAKE/synthesize the blue colour. Hence the occurrence of blue after red makes sense to me. I have a video suggestion to those who did not follow my argument, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g246c6Bv58 The very title of this video is, "Why is Blue so Rare in Nature?" ✌️
who else is a filipino and doesnt know what the heck hanuno’o or any of those words mean and just call them pula, kahel, berde, asul, etc
Rachelle (22 days ago)
A discussion topic we talked about in university: Does language change your perception of the word? In this case, if your native language has more or less colour words, do you percieve those colours differently?
Robbie Liddle (22 days ago)
I suppose we'd have to be more susceptive to red becaus most of the time we're looking out in case we see blood anywhere
John Smith (22 days ago)
Well... they are
Paul White (23 days ago)
In parts of california and oregon states , the people can only see pink and red
Duality FIRM (23 days ago)
lead poisoning
lm e (25 days ago)
For me, it's so strange that they used blue not a dark blue in these schemes. Cause in Russia it's two different words. And I always think of dark blue as a superior color over just blue.
Charles Carr (25 days ago)
"Blue was scarce before manufacturing". Er.. the sky and the sea?
Alex Trout (25 days ago)
Blue is scarce? The sky is fking blue. And I’m pretty sure they have the sky is papua also
wesmatron (25 days ago)
The ancient Greeks did have blue. They called it Bronze
EpicGamingVocalist (25 days ago)
English has Cyan you utter idiots
?ᄋᄉᄋ (26 days ago)
Merah (red), biru (blue), hijau (green), kuning (yellow), jingga (orange), ungu(purple), nila(violet), abu abu (gray), black (hitam), and others like navy it called biru tua or pink it called merah muda
theseoldbeats (27 days ago)
Dude the sky is often blue. How pervasive do you want a colour to be?
Etsgar Garcia (27 days ago)
I'm from the Philippines and I didn't even know those color names existed here. What a shame
Username? (28 days ago)
I like the vid but its made by vox so imma dislike
Ross Khorenjenko (28 days ago)
I’m a little bothered by how casually this video accused WHR Rivers of being a racist. At the turn of the 20th century, after making such enormous and dangerous voyages to remote cultures, seminal Western psychologists like him would not buy into eugenics — a suggestion of native cultures being less civilised is probably more accurate to WHR Rivers’ findings. For those interested, check out his life and work pertaining to the First World War. Rivers was at the very centre of investigating, understanding, and treating what we now call PTSD.
Emmarina (28 days ago)
0:43 you forgot the two dots on the ي
Luke Lu (28 days ago)
Anyone who grew up with Chinese parents will know that it's impossible for them to tell orange and red apart and green and turquoise
Izotope Studio (29 days ago)
Поэтому я могу выучить британский, а вы российский не сможете 😄🖕 because russian brains can more 😛
Who am I? (29 days ago)
Your spectrum is wrong man, it should be: Red---Yellow--Green--Blue--Violet Stop misleading the masses!
Massa Cinzenta (29 days ago)
i'm a physics student and that spectrum annoyed me
Animator (30 days ago)
Boycotting vox
Jaymz Vance (30 days ago)
Black Then White are All I see In my infancy Red and yellow then came to be Reaching out to me Lets me see
Calamiro Asjcobeti (30 days ago)
Hm. Why is it inherently racist? It is not a value judgement, unless you choose to interpret it so.
Don Kaveen (1 month ago)
for people whining about blue , you can't use sky or ocean to reproduce that color , but blood and dirt made red in cave paintings .
Sierra Davis (1 month ago)
Yin and yang then everything changed when the fire nation attacked.
Martynas Globys (1 month ago)
I think english has more than 11 basic colors. What about dark blue and light blue.
lifeaftercave (1 month ago)
juan mateus (1 month ago)
What if yellow identifies as red?
Bolty Bum (1 month ago)
Haruka yin (1 month ago)
Yeah but did no one look at the sky and try to classify its colour???
Illen Lunareth (1 month ago)
Pretty sure "aqua" is a pretty basic color category in English.
Abhinav B (1 month ago)
Detection of the topic itself is very unique, kudos .
nijin. (1 month ago)
Anybody has the song name at 2:00?
akhil parimi (1 month ago)
I didn't understand a single word yet my mind is blown
F (1 month ago)
A couple of months ago there was an NPR podcast on how people with limited color names have to be taught to see the other colors. This adds to that. Very interesting!
stephen h (1 month ago)
I still haven't come across a single Vox video that wasn't presented by a pretentious asshat.
Alexia Lia (1 month ago)
There is a mistake in this video. Homer mentions (according to the chart IN THE VIDEO - the word for blue: κυανό). ..
eun gyeom (1 month ago)
lmao 0:41-0:45 aesthetic wallpapers ksksks
Carolina Oleynik (1 month ago)
I speak Russian and I forgot that we have another color! 😂😂 it’s just so natural that we don’t have to even think
mark heyne (1 month ago)
You think bacteria [ reacts to ] two colours: "Light, which meant danger, and dark, which meant safety."" If eyes were of any evolutionary advantage it must have been to enable an organism to move TOWARDS the light, as a source of energy. Then shadows of bodies in front of them would present a feed or flee moment of choice.
Michael Currie (1 month ago)
But why is red fundamentally more distinct than blue? Is it a property of its place in the colour spectrum, or some property of the human eye?
Sergio Ropo (1 month ago)
"Blue, on the other hand, was fairly scarce before manufacturing"... Yeah, scarce like the blue sky and the deep blue sea.
EPIC [BOOMER] (1 month ago)
Facts can’t be racist🙃
Revi M Fadli (1 month ago)
But interpretations of facts can
GK GK (1 month ago)
In Turkish we dont have an actual name for brown, we call it "the color of coffee" which is *kahverengi* kahverengi=kahve+renk+i *Kahve* is *coffee* , *renk* is *color* and *i* is a suffix meaning *of*
Glia Gucor (1 month ago)
ooooohhhhh Philippinesss
Kagami Takai (1 month ago)
chubby walrus (1 month ago)
Ive never heard any of those filipino words. Im still in junior high but eh
Frank Lin (1 month ago)
That's funny, because colours don't exist. OMG, what is colour.
Forrsch (1 month ago)
This was actually very interesting
AaYyy, DaTs PrEttY (1 month ago)
When he said what colour it is, I thought Pantone was the colour
guitashamilele (1 month ago)
So you've basically dramatised a chapter of Guy Deutscher's book? Maybe you should at least mention him in the description!
Ben Coster (1 month ago)
5:25 "blue was fairly scarce before manufacturing". Well we do have something called the sky and another thing called the sea but those are just minor details...
Zach Lee (1 month ago)
Is this why people say "roses are red, violets are blue" even though violets are blue purple
deharleyva (1 month ago)
Why are racists always so worked up about someone using the word "racist"? Sheesh! It's like they think we won't notice it if it isn't mentioned. 🤣
Glitter Diamond (1 month ago)
Crayon language: 314179286284026382920101735190 different categories
A to Rhombus (1 month ago)
"blue was fairly scarce before industrialism" what about the sky tho
Kade Belanger (1 month ago)
One question is the black square in the thumbnail stretching as you scroll past it I can't not see it
Azure Wing (1 month ago)
Puru isn’t a colour. I think you mean kikorangi.
Oliver Slaughter (1 month ago)
This was interesting and also visually satisfying. Thanks Vox!
Nataniel Ruiz (1 month ago)
Vox videos have gotten better. This video could have been summarized in one minute.
Marcus Mitchell (1 month ago)
3:13 racist? They're less developed because they've been living on an island with limited resources for millennia.
littleNightK (1 month ago)
I like blue maybe because you don't go halfway with blue pretty much every that's blue is beautiful to me my pc doesn't have RGB but instead it's just blue and black
Cheese and Bees (1 month ago)
I'm Belarusian and I teach little kids English - it can be a bit difficult to explain to them why "blue" is used in their studybooks to describe both "голубий" and "лазурный", because "голубий" is blue and "лазурный" is light blue/cyan and they clearly don't understand why these are being put together lol
André Mello (1 month ago)
About blue, if all you know of that color is the sky, then you don't call it "blue", you call it sky. Imagine how weird it would be asking "hey, what color is the sky today?" - people would just answer "uh, sky color you dummy". If it's anything BUT blue (likely, red), you call it a different color, but there's no need to give a name to the default state. It's like the concept of zero - unless you have sufficiently advanced math needs, it doesn't make any sense. Also, the fact that it's a color unlike anything else is probably a big factor in how the sky is seen as "divine".
Will 1212 (1 month ago)
It’s actually colour and not color Americans 😂
giraph2k (1 month ago)
giraph2k (1 month ago)
TimmahDee (1 month ago)
Black And White are All I see In my infancy Red and yellow then came to be
Galactic Marshin (1 month ago)
Why did I even watch this?
amanieux (1 month ago)
can you please elaborate on your conclusion ? what insight did you get from the fact that all culture set the color red apart and before any other color ? how does differentiating the color red help us all "make sense of the world" ? this emphasis on red does not play well with the scientific evidence that the human eye is more sensitive to green than any other color (2x more sensitive than red)
josh reymond (1 month ago)
I would've said it was pantone
PapaWheelie (1 month ago)
The typesetter at the international crayola crayon factory is shaking his head.
Jon Bain (1 month ago)
How many people can correctly identify the tone/wavelength of sounds? Its just about practising what is commonly used.
erfan (1 month ago)
We have names for every single color in Persian/Farsi. Common questions when it comes to color: what kind of blue? The answer can be darker or lighter but there are names for those colors too, and there are ither ways to describe and name colors you just didn't research it Cheers
xWIngKRHKx (1 month ago)
omg this video is really awesome! (actually i wanna know the name of bgm)
Tristen Womack (1 month ago)
Goluboy's a nice color
KDSOON (1 month ago)
In Arabic there is a name for ever color really am not kidding
papajim (1 month ago)
homer was blind XD

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