When is blue green, and when is it grue?: Background information when reading Through the Language Glass

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Through the Language Glass

Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages

by Guy Deutscher

Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2010, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2011, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
When is blue green, and when is it grue?

Print Review

blue Deutscher has much to say about the color "blue": its presence or absence in a language or culture, its sister-color, "green" with which it combines as a single hue in some languages, and notes that it is the color most difficult for children to learn.

Did you know?

  • Many languages do not have separate terms for blue and green; when linguists discuss this combined color they refer to it as grue.
  • Vietnamese, Thai and Korean have one word for green and blue; as do the Pashtun people of Afghanistan and N.W. Pakistan.
  • Japanese has a word for blue and green but the word for blue is often used for colors that English speakers would consider green such as traffic lights and unripe fruit.
  • In traditional Celtic languages such as Welsh, the word glas could refer to blue but also some shades of green and grey
  • Ancient Greek lacked a word for blue (other than kyanos, the root of cyan, which was used to describe dark blue enamel), thus Homer referred to the sea as "wine-dark".
  • In Arabic the word for blue is azrap and green is akhdar, however the color of the sky is often referred to as akhdar in classical poetry.
  • In Sudan it is considered impolite to use the word black, aswad, in reference to skin color. So, darker-skinned Arabs are called akhdar (green) while black Arabs and Africans are azrap (blue).
  • Many Turkik languages distinguish between kök as the color of the sky, sea and green plants, and jasâl, the color of man-made green things.
  • Russian treats light blue as a separate color from plain or dark blue (in a similar way that English distinguishes between red and pink).

Blue isn't the only slippery color. The German makers of this online color-naming quiz assert that culture (region) and gender affect what we see. I was surprised at how difficult it was to decide which color was what.


Disappearing Languages
Deutscher repeatedly demonstrates the crucial importance of the study of rare languages, and laments the rate at which these languages are being lost. National Geographic reports, "Every 14 days a language dies. By 2100, more than half of the more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth - many of them not yet recorded - may disappear, taking with them a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and the human brain." National Geographic's Enduring Voices Project identifies, documents and maps endangered languages in an effort to record the speakers' threatened culture.


Interesting Links:

Article by Jo Perry

This article was originally published in October 2010, and has been updated for the August 2011 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Castle of Water
    Castle of Water
    by Dane Huckelbridge
    When a whopping 24 out of 27 readers give a book 4 or 5 stars, you know you have a winner on your ...
  • Book Jacket: Havana
    Havana
    by Mark Kurlansky
    History with flavor...culture with spice...language with gusto...it would be hard to find a better ...
  • Book Jacket: Temporary People
    Temporary People
    by Deepak Unnikrishnan
    In this powerful and innovative collection of 28 short stories, Deepak Unnikrishnan presents a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Stars Are Fire
    by Anita Shreve

    An exquisitely suspenseful novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    No One Is Coming to Save Us
    by Stephanie Powell Watts

    One of Entertainment Weekly, Nylon and Elle's most anticipated books of 2017.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -