Are Blue and Green two different colors? Depends on which language you speak.

Image source: Danielle Kellogg

Just because you, as an English speaker, distinguish between blue and green, doesn’t mean the entire world does. Kind of difficult to wrap your mind around, isn’t it? Well, in some parts of Africa, the colors green, blue and black don’t have separate names. In other parts of the world, some languages have a word for green, but don’t have words to separate blue from black. This is difficult for me to understand, much less explain, so I’ll let the experts have the podium now. Check out the articles below if you want to learn more about this phenomenon!

Read more:

Anthropology of color By Robert E. MacLaury, Galina V. Paramei, Don Dedrick

Wikipedia: Distinguishing blue from green in language

The New York Times: When Language Can Hold the Answer

The World Atlas of Language Structures


  1. Linguistic relativity when it comes to color words is so much fun even though it can be maddening when studying it! For example, all languages have words for black and white, and if they have a third color word, it will describe red. Also, some color words like gray, orange, and purple are only present when a language has 8 or more names for colors. Also, language in relation to body sensation gets interesting too. Check out these two examples: and Granted they are Japanese and not Spanish, but they get the point across. :)

      • LOL! Awesome. I almost didn’t post this because I can’t sufficiently explain it but then I decided to go with a brief paragraph and links instead of trying to come off as understanding it myself. jajaja. Glad it sparked something!

    • These articles are fascinating, too. Thanks for contributing them to the discussion. I find all languages fascinating even though I spend the most time on Spanish. It’s funny how concrete we believe certain sayings or ideas are in our own culture but they aren’t universal.

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