International color wheel

Sep 25, 2012

Now that you know how color labeling changes by gender, I bet you’re wondering how it varies by language. Dave Oleson and Dawn Ho had a look in this simple color wheel. You can hover over colors for labels by country, and you can search for colors via text box.

On the whole, it looks like countries have extremely similar conceptions of color. Type “blue” into the search box, click on the different countries, and you can see the overlap. There are outliers though. Some narrower colors – such as “purple” – are used much more in Japan than in Russia. The use of certain modifiers such as “light” are used pretty uniformly across the color spectrum in English, but much more prevalently in the Blue-Green region in Japanese.

I wish there were a better way to see differences between countries. Luckily, you can download the data and have a look yourself. [Thanks, Dave]

Update: When you search for a color and then click on the flags, you can see the differences between countries.

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