December 2017
Volume 17, Issue 15
Open Access
OSA Fall Vision Meeting Abstract  |   December 2017
A cross-cultural investigation of a link between color naming and the perceptual salience of hue differences across color space
Author Affiliations
  • Prutha Deshpande
    Ohio State University, Department of Psychology
  • Delwin Lindsey
    Ohio State University, College of Optometry
Journal of Vision December 2017, Vol.17, 41. doi:
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      Prutha Deshpande, Delwin Lindsey; A cross-cultural investigation of a link between color naming and the perceptual salience of hue differences across color space. Journal of Vision 2017;17(15):41.

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Over sixty percent of investigated languages (of the World Color Survey and Mesoamerican Color Survey) name a color category that combines desaturation and complexity (MacLaury, 2007). It is unclear whether such patterns are an artifact of uncertainty in developing color lexicons, or are due to fundamental differences in the salience of perceptual color dimensions across cultures. For example, the use of a single color term to name desaturated color samples of all hues may indicate the forced extension of a color term beyond its normal boundaries (Bimler, 2011), or it may indicate the enhanced salience of the lightness or saturation dimensions of color over hue. In the present study, the latter hypothesis was tested in 30 monolingual English and 30 native Somali speakers. Somalis often deploy a single color term over many desaturated color samples (Lindsey & Brown, 2016). Our study involved: 1) color similarity judgments (stimuli uniformly sampled across hue, plus three lightness/saturation levels), designed to investigate the perceptual scaling of hue differences in comparison to a fixed luminance contrast difference, and 2) monolexemic naming of all color samples used in Part I. Measurements of color discrimination thresholds (from a separate sample of English speakers) were used to place Part I stimuli on a perceptual scale. We report remarkable correspondences in English and Somali color similarity judgments despite clear differences in color naming, which suggests that in this case, differences in color lexicons cannot be explained as resulting from differences in the weighing of hue vs. lightness/saturation dimensions.


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