Did Stephen really say that there was no word in Welsh for "Blue"?
Well, yes. He did. And we have to hold our hands up.
Stephen gets his QI information from a number of sources; from his own knowledge, from the elf-prepared cards, from a screen in his desk, and, occasionally, from his earpiece. On this particular occasion, as the conversation drifted from Ancient Greek to Welsh, Stephen was told by the producer that there is no word in Welsh for "Blue" - a fact that the producer had been told at a dinner party - however, as any Welshman or woman will happily tell you, there is, and it's "Glas".
In fact, the information would have been correct, had the episode been recorded around 1000 years ago.
Different languages divide the visible spectrum up in different ways: all languages have words for white and black, if a language contains a third term it is always red, a fourth will either be green or yellow, a fifth will be yellow or green, while only a language with six distinct colours will have a term for blue. Languages without a word for blue will not distinguish it from green; such languages are known to anthopologists as "Grue Languages."
Unlike Modern Welsh, Ancient Welsh was a "Grue Language;" the word "glas" was used to mean any greeny-blue colour, a fact that can still be seen in the word glaswellt ("blue straw") which means "grass." Other Celtic languages such as Manx have kept Glas to mean green, the name "Glasgow" comes from the celtic for "Green Hollow".
To sum-up. There is a word in Welsh for blue. It's glas.
Color Naming: "Grue" in the Celtic Languages of the British Isles - Lazar-Meyn H.A
Brewers Britain & Ireland
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