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?
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.
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.
This article was originally published in October 2010, and has been updated for the
August 2011 paperback release.
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