from language to language, but the progression of the colors does not.
When comparing focal colours across languages, it turns out that although the variety in colour terms is huge, the variation follows a systematic pattern. A language with only two colour terms has a word for ‘black’ and a word for ‘white’, a language with three colour terms has, in addition, a word for ‘red’, a language with four colour terms has, in addition, either ‘green’ or ‘yellow’, while a language with five colour terms has both ‘green’ and ‘yellow’, and so on (chapter 3 page 7).
If you have six terms you get blue.
If you have seven you add brown.
Up to ten terms and the extra three are pink, purple, and orange.
So how do you identify colors if you only have black and white?
Typically, in languages with two colour terms, such as the Indonesian language Lani, the word for ‘white’ covers all light and warm colours, including red and yellow, while the word for ‘black’ covers all dark and cool colours, including green and blue. (chapter 3, page 8)
from LInguistics for Students of Asian and African Languages
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