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Naming colors in 9 languages

Do Chinese and Spanish have different concepts of what's 'red' or 'blue'?

September 11, 2012

Have you ever stopped and give a good thought about colors? Sure you did! Even if you’re not a designer you must have a favorite color. We all do. But what’s that color name in other languages? Do Chinese and Spanish have different concepts of what’s ‘red’ or ‘blue’?

To help us understand that question, Dave Oleson and Dawn Ho took a research made by themselves four years ago, and with the help of the 4 million CrowdFlower users, created a searchable color-wheel, where you can find out the names of a specific color in nine languages.

What Color is this  in 9 languages
(image: Dave Oleson and Dawn Ho | CrowdFlower)

This visualization, created using D3 , contains 4,000 colors. When you mouse-over the color-wheel, you’ll see the names of the colors in nine different languages, with translations into English. You can also filter by language using the search box and country flags.

Four years ago, we showed English language speakers random colors and asked for the color names. Four years later, with CrowdFlower contributors now in every country of the world, the experiment becomes much richer. The question is not only “Where does blue end, and red begin?”, but do people from different countries have different concepts of color boundaries?

The data is available for download here, in case you want to play with it.

Links: CrowdFloer – What Color is this? in 9 languages

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.