On this day full of red, white, and blue in the US, it's interesting to note that, in a large number of languages, when colors start getting their own words, red is usually the first color defined after black and white (or light and dark), and that blue and green are often not defined individually, at least at first. Those facts and more in this super long/interesting article about color and language and how colors got their names and and and...just read it already. Here's part 2.
The figure above is really telling a story. What it says is this. If a language has just two color terms, they will be a light and a dark shade - blacks and whites. Add a third color, and it's going to be red. Add another, and it will be either green or yellow - you need five colors to have both. And when you get to six colors, the green splits into two, and you now have a blue. What we're seeing here is a deeply trodden road that most languages seem to follow, towards greater visual discernment (92 of their 98 languages seemed to follow this basic route).
Also note the Wikipedia entry for "distinguishing blue from green in language." (via The Millions)
The way infants and adults see color is processed in the brain differently. The infant brain sees color in a pre-linguistic part of the brain. Adults, in a part of the brain that deals with language. It's not known when or how that transition is accomplished, but:
"As an adult, color categorization is influenced by linguistic categories. It differs as the language differs," said Kay, who is renowned for his studies on the ways that different cultures classify colors. He cited recent research on the ability of Russian speakers to detect shades of blue that English speakers classify as a single color.
Is this the contemporary equivalent of Eskimo words for snow?
Pie charts representing the flags of the world's nations...the area of each color on the charts corresponds to the percentage of that color used in the respective flag. I'll take this opportunity to again maintain that Rem Koolhaas' barcode flag for the EU is, technically speaking, wicked awesome. (via colourlovers)
Luke Wroblewski wrote an article for Boxes and Arrows about using colors found in nature as inspiration for color palettes used in designing web sites.
Unfortunately, the photos showing Luke's examples don't appear to be working on the site (the images have been fixed...thx, Lars), but Dave Shea published an image that illustrates Luke's technique.
When you're on the beach in the Caribbean as I was recently, it's difficult for the color palette to escape your notice. I whipped up this collection of colors from some of my photos (coming soon) from Mexico:
From left to right, you've got the pale blue of the ocean close to shore, the light brown of the sand, the green of the lush vegetation, and the deep clear blue of the sky.
Update: A couple people asked, so here are the hex values for the above colors: 3DB8AE, FFEDD8, 396600, and 0050A2, respectively.