On Sunday night I was listening to 'A Way with Words on NPR' and a
science teacher called in... I wish I had something to write with for
the specifics in the story... but basically she was a high school
science teacher working with student where English was a second
language. They did a simple base/acid test where you have to look at
the color of the results to see what the solution was. Her students
couldn't identify the colors from pink to yellow - because their native
language didn't have those words....
I gave my writing class an assignment to observe and describe blues -
without using 'blue'... and then I found this article to share with
Some interesting things in it, older students may be interested - and I
thought I would share with the list:
Blue, azure, cerulean, cobalt: English has colorful vocabulary
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 5, 2007 12:00 AM
In English, there are 11 essential color names: black, white, gray, red,
green, blue, yellow, brown, orange, pink and purple.
Other colors are described by analogy: peach, turquoise, salmon,
Some of the essential words were originally descriptive, like orange -
like the fruit - and pink - like the dianthus blossom. But by now, their
use as names for colors are taken for granted. We don't ever think of
the roadside flower when we call something pink.
It's a cultural thing -
But other languages and other cultures have divided up the color wheel
in different ways and have other ways of understanding colors.
Some languages, mostly of tribal peoples, only distinguish between black
and white, or dark and light, with blue being catalogued with the other
dark colors and red and yellow with the light colors. Context alone
makes the distinction.