Which one colour are you? – Officina delle Lingue
What you don't know

Which one colour are you?

By on 22 June 2017

The names of the colours are one part of the very first lessons when you start to study a new language.

The English red, blue, green and yellow become the Italian rosso, blu, verde and giallo.

These colours are not the same in all the languages.Our perception of reality can have a deep influence on our linguistic system and viceversa. It means that there are different ways of viewing and  naming colours and different ways of perceiving the same reality, which became unique for different language speakers.

In English there are 11 basic colours, such as red, orange and green. But in Wales for example the reality is different. There aren’t words for colours such as green, blue, grey or brown as in English. There is one word for indicating the green and the blue. It is in fact an example or grue language. The word grue means green+blue.

These kind of languages are widespread above all in the mountains and equatorial areas of the world, where UV rays are able to modify the eye capability of perceiving some colours. An example of that is represented also by Navajo population in the North America. They use the same word to indicate blue and green colours.

Amazonian tribes have no word to express colours and they use comparisons to describe the colour of the objects.

There are some languages in which people use more than one word to indicate the blue colour. In Italian, Russian and Greek language there is a distinction between the light and dark blue and they are perceived as two different colours: “azzurro” in Italian means light blue and “blu” means dark blue. The same situation occures in Hungarian and Turkish where there is a distinction between the light and the dark red.

In English there are two words to indicate red and pink, but this difference doesn’t exist in Chinese.

Some scientific tests have showed how the native languages can really influence the perception of reality and viceversa: for example some Russian native speakers have been faster in the distiction of blue colours in comparison with English native speakers.

And which one colour are you?







Federica Mariani, born in 1985. Bachelor's Degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures at Catholic University of Milan. English - German Translator and Teacher. Welcome to my Officina delle Lingue!

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