Page 1

AIC Interim Meeting – Mar del Plata, Argentina – October 2010

Edible Colour Names Lindsay MacDonald Dimitris Mylonas

London College of Communication

Colour names by reference Colour names are like measures of length: both work by reference to external prototype samples or standards. samples, standards

“a notion of comparison is basic to all colour terms�

Wittgenstein, L. (1958) Philosophical Investigations. 2nd Ed. London: Macmillan.

The metonym ‘Raspberry’ stands for the raspberry’s red colour.


Intrinsic qualities (colour, taste, shape)


“She looks good in raspberry!”

Ontological metonymy ™ “Entity stands for entity’s colour.” ™ The metonym is an embodied cognitive structure based on people’s experience with physical entities and their associated colours. ™ Secondary colour names for entities with characteristic colour associations have been metonymically converted to colour terms. ™ Drawn from five object domains: plants, animals, minerals, foods, artefacts. Casson R.W. (1994) Russett, Rose, and Raspberry: The Development of English Secondary Color Terms. J. Linguistic Anthropology 4(1): 5-22.

Colour names and culture McNeill (1972) analysed the usage of colour names in many cultures ‘In the development of colour words, as in any other linguistic creation the determining factors creation, are: necessity and functional importance. These seem to depend on the chief interest of a people.’ McNeill, N.B. (1972) Colour and Colour Terminology. J. Linguistics 8(1) 21-33.

Linguistic anthropology studies Study on Rossel Island, Papua NG. Natives speak an isolated language, known as Yeli Dnye, with no superordinate word for ‘colour’. Contrasting structure of expressions, yi kuu yaa (‘tree unripe leaf’) versus yi chii yad (‘tree desiccating leaf’). Underlying dimension of wet/succulent/green versus dry/brittle/yellow, reminiscent of ancient Greek ȤȜȦȡȩȢ. Levinson, S.C. (2001) Yélî Dnye and the Theory of Basic Color Terms, J. Linguistic Anthropology 10(1): 3-55.

An online colour naming experiment

™ Research of Dimitris Mylonas ™ Initially an MSc project, but has continued … ™ Now in six languages

Online experimental method ™ Advantages

• • •

Many observers from culturally diverse populations Simultaneous participation of multiple observers Experiment p is conducted in familiar spaces p

™ Disadvantages

• • •

Uncontrolled reproduction of colour stimuli No accurate measurements of viewing conditions Higher observer metamerism & dropout rates

Unconstrained method Observer can use any words to describe each colour.

Purple Strong medium reddish blue



Design goals of research ™ Find broad multi-lingual sets of colour names ™ Plot corresponding regions in colour space ™ Investigate the effect of viewing conditions ™ Explore the influence of language ™ Develop an online colour naming model

Infrastructure of experiment

Selection of stimulus colours Selected at random from 600 test samples in Munsell Renotation Dataset and specified in sRGB colour space.

Locations in colour space Centroids in CIELAB a*-b* plane of 47 colours named more than 20 times by subjects.

Validation of results

Moroney, N. 2003. Unconstrained web-based color naming experiment. Color Imaging VIII. Proc. SPIE, 5008: 36-46.

Participants per language

Analysis of distribution Proportion of terms in English colour names

Edible colour names ™ 21% of 5500 responses in English were derived from or related to food, of which 65% were singleword and 35% were multi-word. ™ 443 terms were used twice or more, of which 85 (19%) were derived from food (e.g. ‘cherry red’) and a further 53 (12%) were related to food (e.g. ‘sunflower yellow’). ™ Females tended to use colour names related to food more often than males, and subjects with colour experience more often than naïve subjects.

20 most frequent edible colours cream salmon pink light orange mustard aqua plum lavender mint green burgundy olive rose lime green salmon maroon peach fuchsia mauve violet orange lilac 0







20 most rapid edible names orange mint peach lime flesh olive lime green maroon mauve lilac salmon cerise violet cream wine gold burgundy rose fuchsia olive green 1



2.5 Seconds



Mapping edible names to colours Classification of Munsell 320-colour array by 28 food-related colour names:

aqua, burgundy, cerise, cream, dark orange, flesh, fuchsia, lavender, light orange, light violet, lilac, lime, lime green, maroon, mauve, mint green, mustard, mustard yellow, olive, olive green, orange, peach, plum, rose, rose pink, salmon, salmon pink, violet

Conclusions ™ Basic colour terms (B&K) were used more consistently and identified faster than non-basic colour names. ™ Majority of responses involved secondary colour names and d modifiers. difi ™ Good agreement of online results vs rigorous psychophysical experiments. ™ Excellent agreement between online experiments for 27 top listed chromatic colour names.

Future directions ™ Influence of viewing conditions on the location of colour names in colour appearance spaces. ™ How culture is associated with psychophysical responses and d lilinguistic i ti colour l spaces. ™ Develop a colour naming model to automate the colour naming task in web-based environments. ™ More languages, more observers, more data ...

Lindsay MacDonald Professor of Digital Media London College of Communication

Profile for Jose Caivano


Lindsay MacDonald, Dimitris Mylonas (UK): Edible colour names


Lindsay MacDonald, Dimitris Mylonas (UK): Edible colour names

Profile for caivano