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Transcript of Color Recognition
Ch 4: Language, Thought and Culture
A Study in Color Recognition
According to Ahearn in this chapter, "The current consensus among linguistic anthropologists is that a mutually influential relationship exists among language, thought, and culture, but many linguistic anthropologists echo Whorf's assessment...that language shapes culture and thought more significantly than people realize."
Artists vs. Non-Artists
If color acuity is tied to language, then those with an artistic background should exhibit a notable difference in variety of color vocabulary when presented with various colors compared
Nearly all volunteers filled out the survey in a non-linear order; they initially identified whichever colors they found easiest to name, then moved to "harder" colors
When a participant wasn't sure of a color there were 3 main approaches they took:
1. Comparing it to other colors in reference to shade ("light" or "bright green")
2. they referenced an object of familiarity (ie: "barney purple", "kermit green" and "stick of butter yellow"
and actually food terms were used frequently- (mint, salmon, peach, mustard, eggplant, tartar and watermelon pink)
3. Filler method ("WTF", "whatever",)but none were blank
Contrast and Comparisons:
In an attempt to explore this connection we did a color identification survey with artists and non-artists. The idea was that both subcultures would exhibit clear distinctions in their labels that would reflect differences in their thought processes and cultural communities.
We chose 24 colors with various shades and designed a survey with blank spaces where each color could be labeled by the participants. We intentionally choose colors of varying shades, and colors that are closely related in order to draw out specific color names, so that all of the answers were not exclusively "Blue" "Brown" "Green" etc.
We did not want to prep our participants in any way so we did as many surveys as needed until we had 20 of each group, artist and non-artist. However, we did target areas where we assumed artists would be present such as the college of fine arts.
No two were the exact same, each and every one was unique. We believe this is a true reflection of human perception.
To what extent are language, thought, and culture linked?
Ultimately we did not prove our hypothesis based on frequency of terms as we hoped but we do feel a clear connection or link between language, thought, and culture was certainly observed. To give some examples: Hospital Green, Easter purple, Tony Hawk red, Navajo yellow and Caucasian. Clearly there is cultural context within these labels which are reflected through the diction and give insight into the thought process of color perception and identification.
Creating the Survey
Choosing the Participants
Analyzing the Data
In analyzing our data we were not looking for correctness or accuracy at all. Rather, we were looking for patterns to reveal the difference between the subcultures, and reflect the links between lingo or terminology and thought processes associated with being a member of an artistic community or not. More specifically we were looking at the frequency of labels to determine if someone with a more specialized background in art would give more complex answers.
Our data showed that rather than the major variation being between the subcultures there was actually a greater variation between the individuals in each subculture and between the individuals of the participant population as a whole.
Our most interesting findings and cultural insights actually came from observations made while conducting the survey and speaking with the participants
Based on these conclusions it may be better, if ever conducting a study like this one again, to couple the survey with a quick interview afterward. This would help to gain better insight into the actual thought process of certain labels and give more cultural context. Also it would have been helpful to target participants more specifically based on a specialized art form rather than having such a broad population sample.. Examples:
game designer labeling - "Minecraft Creeper Green"
sculptor labeling- "dioxizine purple"
to people with minimal to no artistic
"It is safe to say that the specific language you speak can indeed affect, at least for borderline cases, your perception of color-or at least your performance on experimental tasks designed to test your perception color." p.86
Many survey takers spelled incorrectly and actually verbally expressed insecurity or nervousness about spelling
Frequency of Descriptive Labels
"Other experiments that test color labeling, sorting, differentiating, or memory also show that the presence or absence of specific color terms in one's language can habe a measurable effect on various thought processes" p.85-86