University Studies of the University of Nebraska


Date of this Version

July 1890


Published in UNIVERSITY STUDIES,Vol. I., No. 3, JULY, 1890. Published by University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


The very interesting investigations and discussions on the development of the color-sense in man, during historical times, have indirectly shown the deficiency of ancient languages in words for simple sensations. Even if the validity of the inference drawn by the original investigators is more than doubtful, their labor has not been in vain. In seeking evidence for the recent evolution of the sense of color, Gladstone, Geiger, and others have shown that few words denoting color are used in the earliest literature of several nations. Furthermore, most of the color-words found denote shades of red, orange, or yellow. Violet is never named, blue very seldom, and green much less frequently than we might expect from its occurrence in nature. Quite similar results have been obtained from examination of the vocabularies of modern uncivilized peoples. Although most tribes have names for the principal colors of the spectrum, the terms denoting red or yellow are far more numerous and much more definite than the others.

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