Behavioral and Brain Sciences

open peer commentary

variations in color naming within and across populations

michael a. webster a1 and paul kay a2
a1 department of psychology, university of nevada – reno, reno, nv 89557
a2 international computer science institute and university of california – berkeley, berkeley, ca 94704


the simulations of steels & belpaeme (s&b) suggest that communication could lead to color categories that are closely shared within a language and potentially diverge across languages. we argue that this is opposite of the patterns that are actually observed in empirical studies of color naming. focal color choices more often exhibit strong concordance across languages while also showing pronounced variability within any language.