Colours: Differing Points of Hue via BBC

This is a really interesting article on how we perceive colours and how they emerge in cultures. Black and white come first, then red. You won’t find a culture that recognizes blue without recognizing certain other shades and colours first. This and many other interesting tidbits can be found in this wonderful piece.

This also gives me a chance to link back to what is probably my favorite post from my un-prolific history of blogging: How Well Do You Know Your Colours? I promise the post is better than the title.

As always, I love to hear people’s thoughts, trials and tribulations, and well any interesting gossip is always welcome. Off to see if my pork roast is pink or white.

How Well Do You Know Your Colors?

There comes a point in your life where you think that some things you’ve got down pat. Things like:

  • How to count to 100
  • Names of basic household objects
  • Names of most animals
  • What color something is

And then you have a child. And you realize you know nothing. You know less than nothing.

Here is a small selection of Pea’s coloring implements. This photo isn’t too bad as we require a re-stock since the kid goes through these like most of us go through toilet paper or beer or both since they do seem to go hand in hand for us ladies.

There were only a few markers left in her box, the rest having migrated into our own personal black hole where favorite gadgets, trinkets, pens, duckies et al seem to continually disappear. When the seal was still intact, this box had about 6 types of red, blue, green, yellow-browny, mustardy type colors, purples etc.  I saw it in the shop, I thought “oh how lovely, look at all those colors, Pea will love this!”

And then I got home, we got some paper out and this is the exchange we have:

pea: “what’s this?”

me: “violet ma cherie”  (me trying to say purple in French. No sooner have I said it I wonder what violet then is in french if purple is violet and here begins my decent into a hellish color abyss )

Pea, now pointing to another marker “what’s this?”

me, sweat beginning to break out on brow “c’est mauve.” (mauve, is that even a colour in english? and really what’s the difference between mauve and purple or purple and violet, or mauve and violet for that matter)

pea: “What’s this?”

me:  I don’t answer. Is that lavender? Is lavender lighter or darker than violet?

pea: “what’s this?”

me: still silent. Oh great we are in the blues. I think of all the blues I know: teal, navy, turquoise, royal, light, blue-black – Overlooking the fact that this last one is going to be a pain to try to explain,  blue is my favorite color and  I tell myself I know a number of blues. My confidence starts to come back until it hits me:

1. I don’t know all of those in French. Instead I start to think of others in I know in french like bleu ardoise and bleu canard and wonder whether I know these in English. Now my head starts to hurt.

2. Look at the markers in the photograph; there are many blues but most of them are NOT the blues I know. This box is looking less and less like a box of simple colors and more and more like a complex paint selection at home depot.

At least 10 minute have gone by at this point. Pea in the mean time has moved on to reds. What do I know about red?Light? Dark? Wait crimson? Ruby? I am starting to see them all in a police lineup and I can’t identify the perpetrators. Doesn’t matter, she isn’t asking at this point…. thank heavens.

I am ok with the fact that I don’t know the colors because I can get it wrong for me. In my world, I don’t matter. It is my choice.  But what I am suddenly obsessing about is the fact that I am potentially giving my daughter inaccurate information. And here’s the funny thing, I am not sure why it matters but it just does. I don’t want to confuse her. I hate that one day I call something mauve and the next violet. She already has a lot to contend with, 3 languages, a new baby sister, a new country, she doesn’t need her mother flip-flopping Senator Kerry style on colors.

I need a book. A book with all the colors in french, english and spanish. I need a colorist in the true sense of the word.

In the mean time I suggest we  move on to playdoh. She happily  makes the switch. But I know I am only putting off the inevitable.


PS Am wondering what her father answers? Does he over analyze the colors? My first thought is he is a man so no. But then I think well he is also an architect working on interior design so maybe. Mental note to self : make colors topic of conversation on next date night. Oh the exciting lives we lead.