1932

Abstract

Color is a continuous variable, and humans can distinguish more than a million colors, yet world color lexicons contain no more than a dozen basic color terms. It has been understood for 160 years that the number of color terms in a lexicon varies greatly across languages, yet the lexical color categories defined by these terms are similar worldwide. Starting with the seminal study by Berlin and Kay, this review considers how and why this is so. Evidence from psychological, linguistic, and computational studies has advanced our understanding of how color categories came into being, how they contribute to our shared understanding of color, and how the resultant categories influence color perception and cognition. A key insight from the last 50 years of research is how human perception and the need for communication within a society worked together to create color lexicons that are somewhat diverse, yet show striking regularities worldwide.

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2021-09-15
2024-04-18
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