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Color naming and the effect of language on perception

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A classic nature-versus-nurture debate in cognitive science concerns the relation between language and perception. The universalist view holds that language is shaped by universals of perception, while the opposing relativist view holds instead that language shapes perception, in a manner that varies with little constraint across languages. Over the years, consensus has oscillated between these two poles. In this talk, I argue that neither position is fully supported. I argue moreover that the universalist/relativist opposition itself should be resisted as a conceptual framework, since it paints with too broad a brush, and obscures interesting realities. I argue this general point using two case studies in the naming and perception of color.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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  • CIC is the premier annual technical gathering for scientists, technologists, and engineers working in the areas of color science and systems, and their application to color imaging. Participants represent disciplines ranging from psychophysics, optical physics, image processing, color science to graphic arts, systems engineering, and hardware and software development. While a broad mix of professional interests is the hallmark of these conferences, the focus is color. CICs traditionally offer two days of short courses followed by three days of technical sessions that include three keynotes, an evening lecture, a vibrant interactive (poster) papers session, and workshops. An endearing symbol of the meeting is the Cactus Award, given each year to the author(s) of the best interactive paper; there are also Best Paper and Best Student Paper awards.

    Please note: for Purposes of its Digital Library content, IS&T defines Open Access as papers that will be downloadable in their entirety for free in perpetuity. Copyright restrictions on papers vary; see individual paper for details.

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