Saturday, May 30, 2015

Himba people from Namibia see more greens and less blues

Which green square is a different shade ? Himba people would know.
Researchers  found that the Himba people from Namibia can identify different shades of green easily, but find it difficult to differentiate Blue and Green. This is a common situation in many cultures where green and blue are not separately named like Ancient Japanese, Ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Vietnamese. They use a single term for both blue and green - which researchers have called Grue or Bleen as a portmanteau of Green and Blue.


The OvaHimba use four colour names:

  • zuzu stands for dark shades of blue, red, green and purple
  • vapa is white and some shades of yellow
  • buru is some shades of green and blue
  • dambu is some other shades of green, red and brown
It is theorized that this may increase the time it takes for the OvaHimba to distinguish between two colours that fall under the same Herero colour category, compared to people whose language separates the colours into two different colour categories. A decade old study showed as much.

Himba poeple do not have blue in their dictionary


The situation is the opposite with Russians, who have different words for shades of blue in Russian. They can differentiate different shades of blue better and faster than English speakers and much much better than the Grue people.

Russians find difficulty in this due to the stroop effect
It is now thought that even in people with normal color sensing cones in the retina of their eyes, color vision is partly a learned skill which can be improved with training.

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