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

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Through the Language Glass

Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages

by Guy Deutscher

Through the Language Glass
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2010, 320 pages
    Aug 2011, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

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About this Book

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

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 ...

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