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The Evolution of Color: Why Is Orange Orange and the Origins of Color Names

Dec 14, 2016 09:14 AM EST

While the rest of the world is worrying about the future robot apocalypse, massive space discoveries and innovations in the fight against global warming, others are constantly exploring the innate nature of man.

It appears linguists from Yale University have tracked down the evolution of color terms in a huge language tree in Australia in an effort to trace the history of these naming conventions.

According to Science Daily, the naming of colors have been a huge topic of interest in the study of human culture. Studying color may reveal the link between perception, language and the categorization of the world around us. 

It appears this question in the study of anthropology and cognitive sciences have been answered -- partly.

Yale's Claire Bowern and Hannah Haynie used an evolutionary framework to study the color systems in the Pama-Nyungan language. They analyzed the color systems of about 189 languages in the family, chosen because of its history that dates back 6,000 years and size, which is about 90 percent of the Australian mainland.

Bowern said the Pama-Nyungan societies are similar in their cultures and the ways they make use of resources for color. From their data, they deduced the color naming process has seven stages.

As elaborated in their Yale study, the most basic centers on naming black and white, and then red, then yellow or green, then blue or brown. The last stages involve assigning colors to pink, purple, orange, and gray.

The results of their study can provide a massive detailed history of color terms across a large sample. This shows that there is broad support for the color terms as defined by Berlin and Kay, which maintains that all the world's languages share all or part of a common group of color names that evolve in a specific order.

According to International News Live, the researchers also found that there is extensive evidence for the loss and gain of color terms as well.  

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