Friday, May 7, 2010

Colourful Results

The team at xkcd have published the results of their massive colour name survey (be warned, some of the language results is a little colourful!):

Names for colours are not the same across different langauges, some languages for example don't have separate names for what we call blue and green (these are called 'grue' languages), while some may have more specific basic colour terms than we have (Russian, for example, has two different basic blues they distinguish which we'd just call 'light' and 'dark').

Lots of work has been done by linguists over the last forty years looking at colour term variation - but the volume of data collected in this online survey is staggering. over 5 million colours were named over almost a quarter of a million individual sessions. And because they are free of the pressures and constraints of institutionalised research they've made the data available for you do play with at home!

The only real variable they've examined to date is gender, but given that participants were asked to give their native language as metadata there is potential for some cross-linguistic analysis.

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