New App, Color Game, for Language Evolution

CREDIT: MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE FOR THE SCIENCE OF HUMAN HISTORY

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany and the Mint Minds and Traditions Research Group (a Max Planck research group) have released a new app that introduces a new way to study language evolution.

The app aims to gamify language learning by asking players to communicate specific colors to each other using only a series of black and white symbols. Essentially, the game allows players to create their own language to communicate, and their processes will be recorded for scientific research.

The way it works is, one player is presented with a target color, say green. They attempt to communicate to the other player the color green without using any words. Instead, they use a set of black and white symbols that come with the game to communicate the color. The symbols themselves have no associations with color, yet the associations can be made. It sounds a bit more confusing than it actually is, watch a video below to see how it works.

The creators of the game say, “Can we communicate across the barrier of languages, with images instead of sounds? The scientists behind the color game will document the evolution of a new kind of language, a language beyond words. They will explore the way that new symbols emerge, acquire a meaning, or change their meaning, over time and across space. Will the color game give birth to different dialects, languages that only some people can understand but not others? Will the images of the color game evolve in the same way that words for colour evolved through human history? These are some of the questions that the creators of the Color Game hope to answer.”

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