Colourful new publication

Published: 6 March 2007

Two new volumes of research look at the phenomenon of colour

A new publication from an international group of academics offers an extensive analysis of the phenomenon of colour. Edited by Glasgow and Nottingham University scholars, over twenty reports investigate the language and culture of colour and the ways in which we understand colour from infancy into adulthood.

The two volumes of Progress in Colour Studies, based on research presented at a conference at the University of Glasgow, offer a wide-ranging selection of research projects in this area. Volume 1 focuses on the language and culture of colour, containing an analysis of colour vocabulary in languages including English, French, Portuguese and Cape Breton Gaelic. Reports also include an analysis of the Old English terms for colours, including an investigation of the replacement of the principal word for blue, haewen, with its modern counterpart.

The second volume focuses on our psychological understanding of colour, including how we categorise and name colours and why we prefer some colours to others.

Two papers in the volume challenge the common belief that colour preference is highly individual. One paper instead argues that for adults colour preferences are highly predictable across gender and cultures suggesting that colour preferences are systematically governed by our sensory systems.

Other papers also investigate factors that influence how children learn to name colours. An analysis of studies highlights that both the frequency with which the child hears the terms for colours and their preference for colours appear to influence when they acquire particular colour terms.

One of the editors of the volumes, Professor Christian Kay of the Department of English Language at Glasgow University, said: 'Colour is a fascinating phenomenon which affects our lives in many different ways. These volumes reflect current progress in understanding and using colour terms, and how this relates to our environment.'

Kate Richardson (

For more information or to see copies of the reports please contact Kate Richardson at the University of Glasgow's Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3683 or email

First published: 6 March 2007

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