Ever wondered how we even came up with silly names like “blue” and “red” to represent colors, in the first place? Well, The Ohio State University performed a collaborative project with researchers from Japan to explore “how words come to be associated with things – all things that exist, from teacups to love.” Additionally, researchers took a specific interest in comparing Japan’s modern color terminology to what we say in the States.
For example, what would you name the color below?
A lot of native English speakers would simply say “baby blue,” or “light blue.” While many in Japan would label it “mizu,” which translates to “water.” The Ohio State University found this to be so after surveying 57 native Japanese speakers to name colors shown on flashcards. But, without using the terms “light” or “dark” to differentiate between hues.
And according to researcher and optometry professor Angela Brown, “in Japan, ‘mizu’ is as different from ‘blue’ as ‘green’ is from ‘blue.'” She went on to explain that, “in America, we don’t have a single unique word for light blue. The closest thing we have is “sky.”
Researchers also compared the Japanese use of “mizu” to the American use of “magenta.” In that, we don’t describe the purpleish-red color as such. It’s its own color.
Which begs the question: Why not give this gorgeous blue-ish its own color, as well? A simple “light” or “baby” adjective just won’t do. Guess we’ll have to take it upon ourselves to come up with an honorable label.
Pretty trippy, right?
Well, imagine how many undiscovered colors there are that don’t have names! Is there even enough room on the color wheel for all of them?