No one could see the colour blue until modern times
This isn’t another story about that dress, or at least, not really. It’s about the way that humans see the world, and how until we have a way to describe something, even something so fundamental as a colour, we may not even notice that it’s there. Until relatively recently in human history, “blue” didn’t exist. As the delightful Radiolab episode “Colours” describes, ancient languages didn’t have a word for blue — not Greek, not Chinese, not Japanese, not Hebrew. And without a word for the colour, there’s evidence that they may not have seen it at all. How we realised blue was missing In the Odyssey, Homer famously describes the “wine-dark sea.” In 1858, a scholar named William Gladstone, who later became the Prime Minister of Great Britain, noticed that this wasn’t the only strange colour description. So Gladstone decided to count the colour references in the book. He studied Icelandic sagas, the Koran, ancient Chinese stories, and an ancient Hebrew version of the Bible. There was no blue.
Related: Language Use
• Psychologie, philosophie, linguistique
• Culture G