The surprising pattern behind color names around the world

vox.comvoxexplaincolorcolorshierarchylinguisticsterminologyscienceexplainedberlin and kaybrent berlinpaul kaywhr rivershomerodysseywilliam gladstonespectrumcategoriesorderlanguagelanguageswordsanthropologyhanunooyelespeechcommunicationhuman historyresearchsocietyuniversalpatternworld

Why so many languages invented words for colors in the same order.

Subscribe to our channel!

In 1969, two Berkeley researchers, Paul Kay and Brent Berlin, published a book on a pretty groundbreaking idea: that every culture in history, when they developed their languages, invented words for colors in the exact same order. They claimed to know this based off of a simple color identification test, where 20 respondents identified 330 colored chips by name. If a language had six words, they were always black, white, red, green, yellow, and blue. If it had four terms, they were always black, white, red, and then either green or yellow. If it had only three, they were always black, white, and red , and so on. The theory was revolutionary — and it shaped our understanding of how color terminologies emerge.

Read more on the research mentioned in this video: 

Cook, Kay, and Regier on the World Color Survey:
Stephen C. Levinson on Yele color terms:
John A. Lucy on Hanunó'o color terms:
Loreto, Mukherjee, and Tria on color naming population simulations:

To learn more about how your language's color words can affect the way you think, check out this video lecture: is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app. 

Check out our full video catalog:
Follow Vox on Twitter:
Or on Facebook:

Related Videos
Thumbnail: The math problem that stumped thousands of mansplainers
Thumbnail: Why cartoon characters wear gloves
Thumbnail: 20 Photos That'll Turn Your View of History Upside Down
Thumbnail: Only a Schizophrenic or a Genius Can Answer This
Thumbnail: How did pink become a girly color?
Thumbnail: The secret chord that makes Christmas music sound so Christmassy
Thumbnail: You have more than five senses
Thumbnail: 10 Mysteries Solved By Reddit
Thumbnail: What makes a truly great logo
Thumbnail: Color film was built for white people. Here's what it did to dark skin.
Thumbnail: Why these all-white paintings are in museums and mine aren't
Thumbnail: Why people keep watching the worst movie ever made
Thumbnail: How a melancholy egg yolk conquered Japan
Thumbnail: How beauty brands failed women of color
Thumbnail: Why every American graduation plays the same song
Thumbnail: What If The World Was One Country?
Thumbnail: Inside North Korea's bubble in Japan
Thumbnail: Why blackface is still part of Dutch Christmas
Thumbnail: Scientists Found 13 Signs of Exceptional Intelligence
Thumbnail: How an MS Paint artist made this picture
Thumbnail: How QWERTY conquered keyboards
Thumbnail: Why America still uses Fahrenheit
Thumbnail: The science is in: Exercise isn’t the best way to lose weight
Thumbnail: Things You Will INSTANTLY REGRET Touching
Thumbnail: The military coup in Zimbabwe, explained
Thumbnail: How job surveillance is transforming trucking in America
Thumbnail: How streets, roads, and avenues are different
Thumbnail: Why people think they see ghosts
Thumbnail: These Ancient Relics Are So Advanced They Shouldn't Exist...
Thumbnail: Why do medieval buildings overhang their lower floors?
Thumbnail: How the US outsourced border security to Mexico
Thumbnail: Why all world maps are wrong
Thumbnail: Why Japan has so many vending machines
Thumbnail: The hidden oil patterns on bowling lanes
Thumbnail: The world is poorly designed. But copying nature helps.
Thumbnail: Why are Kinder Eggs Illegal in the USA?
Thumbnail: How cars went from boxy to curvy
Thumbnail: Would you use time travel to kill baby Hitler?
Thumbnail: Why China is building islands in the South China Sea
Thumbnail: Dr. Oz's three biggest weight loss lies, debunked
Thumbnail: How the triplet flow took over rap
Thumbnail: Why knights fought snails in medieval art
Thumbnail: What if Google Was A Country?
Thumbnail: How fan films shaped The Lego Movie
Thumbnail: Why the rise of the robots won’t mean the end of work
Thumbnail: The origin of the '80s aesthetic
Thumbnail: The sound illusion that makes Dunkirk so intense
Thumbnail: The secret rhythm behind Radiohead's "Videotape"
Thumbnail: Harry Potter and the translator's nightmare - Vox
Thumbnail: The dollhouses of death that changed forensic science