CAN A PERSON WHO SPEAKS A LANGUAGE WITH NO WORD FOR BLUE DISTINGUISH BLUE FROM GREEN? In this article in the New York Times Magazine (August 26, 2010) the linguist Guy Deutscher states the weak form of the Whorfian hypothesis in a different way: “”When your language routinely obliges you to specify certain types of information, it forces you to be attentive to certain details in the world and to certain aspects of experience that speakers of other languages may not be required to think about all the time.”
Loria describes an experiment conducted by Jules Davidoff with the Himba tribe, who speak a language that has no word for blue or distinction between blue and green. Because there is no word for “blue”, there would be no reason for a member of the tribe to pay much attention to shades of blue. Here is the image with one blue and eleven green squares. The Himba had a great deal of trouble identifying the blue square. Try it yourself by hitting the link and see how easy it is for us.
The answer to the question “Can a person who speaks a language with no word for blue distinguish blue from green?” is: YES, but they will not do it very well.