In Russian, there is a name for a light blue, and a name for a dark blue, but not for what English-speaking people call blue. Indeed, language shapes our understanding of color differences and categories.
Although it can be entertaining to think about how other factors, like gender, affect categorization of color, the survey deployed and analyzed by xkcd’s Randall Munroe showed that chromosomal gender mostly doesn’t matter (and that nobody can spell fuchsia).
Color is used widely in scientific visualization. The influence of language/culture on color perception impacts the interpretation of such visualization to some extent, but other measures can be taken to improve the use of color in visualizations:
- Using variations across the color spectrum? Remember how cyan is just brighter than blue? You can adjust for that!
- Using discrete colors, either along a single hue, or across many distinct hues? You can find sets of distinct, evenly-spaced colors to use!