A visual vocabulary?

This article is a description of how the differences between colors vary from language to language. The whole article is worth reading (as is Part II), but what I found most fascinating was the fact that naming colors actually draws distinctions in the world, and we notice details that would otherwise escape our attention.

So here’s the story. You start with a black-and-white world of darks and lights. There are warm colors, and cool colors, but no finer categories. Next, the reds and yellows separate away from white. You can now have a color for fire, or the fiery color of the sunset. There are tribes that have stopped here. Further down, blues and greens break away from black. Forests, skies, and oceans now come of their own in your visual vocabulary. Eventually, these colors separate further. First, red splits from yellow. And finally, blue from green. The forest unmingles from the sky. In the case of Japan, that last transition essentially happened in modern history!