The evolution of GRUE

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The hue spectrum is a continuum of light, yet we perceive it categorically. The categories used to describe this continuum vary across the world’s languages and there are marked differences in the numbers of colour categories and the locations of category boundaries. For example, the green–blue region of colour space is labelled with two terms in English but with only one term (a “grue” term) in many African languages. Evidence for a “grue” term in Otjiherero – a language spoken by the Himba of northern Namibia – has been well documented. Here we present data from colour list and colour naming tasks indicating the emergence of a new Himba colour term. These findings have significant implications for future cross-cultural research into colour categorization.


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