Summarising our experience of colour

Is the blue you see the same as the blue your friend sees? When you listen to music do you see colours? How many words for ‘blue’ do you have in your language? Complete the summary to find out more about colour!


Remember to read the instructions carefully before you begin! ×
  1. Click the button to open the reading passage and skim read the text.
  2. Fill gaps in the text with words or phrases from the blue box. There are more items than gaps.
  3. Click (or touch) 'Check your answers'.
  • Feedback colours: Correct - Incorrect - Not answered
  • After checking answers you can click highlighted words in the answer key. The reading passage will open with corresponding language highlighted.
  • This activity includes 10 questions.

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function - language - artists - cones - retina - objects - teachers - Japanese - strength - synaesthesia - shade - perception - Russian - meaning - people

People experience colour in different ways and there are even some who cannot distinguish between colours. This is because part of their eye has missing cells called that are sensitive to light. However, even normal people experience colour differently because it is ultimately our brains that impose on colour. There are also clinical conditions, for example , which cause people to experience colour in radically different ways. The way we use language also influences our experience of colour. In some professions a larger vocabulary is needed for colours, for example have more names for colours than most ordinary people. Meanwhile, cultures classify colours differently, or they might combine the concept of colour with other kinds of experience such as physical sensation and . Interestingly, some languages do not have different words for ‘blue’ and ‘green’. Similarly some languages, for example , have more than one word for ‘blue’, depending on the of the colour. Finally, if we are from a culture that has more than one word for ‘blue’, but spend a long time in a culture that has only one, our of ‘blue’ can change. And it is not only our perception of colour that can change in this way, the way we perceive the around us can also change when we learn a new .

People experience colour in different ways and there are even some who cannot distinguish between colours. This is because part of their eye has missing cells called cones that are sensitive to light. However, even normal people experience colour differently because it is ultimately our brains that impose meaning on colour. There are also clinical conditions, for example synaesthesia, which cause people to experience colour in radically different ways. The way we use language also influences our experience of colour. In some professions a larger vocabulary is needed for colours, for example artists have more names for colours than most ordinary people. Meanwhile, cultures classify colours differently, or they might combine the concept of colour with other kinds of experience such as physical sensation and function. Interestingly, some languages do not have different words for ‘blue’ and ‘green’. Similarly some languages, for example Russian, have more than one word for ‘blue’, depending on the shade of the colour. Finally, if we are from a culture that has more than one word for ‘blue’, but spend a long time in a culture that has only one, our perception of ‘blue’ can change. And it is not only our perception of colour that can change in this way, the way we perceive the objects around us can also change when we learn a new language.

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