CAN AN ENGLISH SPEAKER DISTINGUISH SHADES OF GREEN WITHOUT HAVING LOTS OF WORDS FOR GREEN? The second of Davidoff’s experiments on how languages affect the ability to tell green from blue dealt with how well English speakers can distinguish shades of green. Loria says: “The Himba have more words for types of green than we do in English.” Davidoff repeated his experiment with eleven squares with one shade of green and one square with a different shade of green. Loria’s article has images of the experiment: Here are the squares. And here is the correct answer. I couldn’t find the unique square. Try it yourself.
Loria gives Davidoff’s conclusion: “Davidoff says that without a word for a colour, without a way of identifying it as different, it’s much harder for us to notice what’s unique about it — even though our eyes are physically seeing the blocks it in the same way.”
The answer to the question “Can an English speaker distinguish shades of color without having lots of words for green?” is: YES, but they will not do it very well.