Why do some cultures have no word for blue?

Dr. James Fox

Until relatively recently in human history, there wasn't a word meaning "blue". Of the ancient cultures, only the Egyptians had a word for this colour. What was everyone else seeing?

Watch preview

Learn about this Garden Talk

"In many respects, colour's greatest challenge is - like music - it resists most attempts to describe it. Colour might be one of those subjects that simply can't be written about."

But that's not going to stop Dr. James Fox from trying!

James is an art historian at the University of Cambridge, a curator, an award-winning broadcaster and the author of bestselling book The World According to Colour. He's joining us in The Garden for a deep dive into the most fascinating questions we could think to ask him about colour.

In this Garden Talk, James explores an astounding linguistic anomaly - the distinct absence of a word for the colour blue in many cultures. But is this really just a question of language, or is there something more complex at work? If you don't have a word for blue, do you still recognise the colour? And if not, what colour is the sky?

Read this talk's transcript

Talk outline

Duration

50 minutes

Collection

Fascinating Flowers

About the Fellow

Dr. James Fox

James fell in love with art at the age of six and hasn't looked back since. He is now an art historian at the University of Cambridge, a curator, an award-winning broadcaster and the author of bestselling book The World According to Colour.

Fascinating Flowers Collection

Flowers are all around us in the world but why do we love them so much?