Colour vs Color

Arcus Global

Arcus Global
October 16, 2012

I’m not a designer by trade but by hobby so I’m always fascinated by colours. I live and breath HTML code so I end up using shed loads of hex values in page design work both at work and at home.

As such I don’t really take much notice of the names of colours used in HTML code but prefer to use the hex value, I’ve spent an awful lot of time creating little JavaScript snippets and functions to manipulate those hex values – which has helped my understanding of hexadecimal no end (My first test when I applied to do my conversion Masters in Computer Science was to take away a set of sums in hex and return with the answers – with the help of a tame Java developer I managed it as well). I remember once creating a lovely little script which rotated a set of numbers throughout the hex spectrum and allowed me to create nearly every colour eventually. Magic (I’ll have to find it soon as it made lovely little patterns).

Anyway there’s been a number of related articles about colours of late which fascinated me. I think the first of which was this one by Jacob Sloan writing in disinfomation. He talks about how we as a species have evolved our distinction of colours – almost like moving from a black & white TV to a colour TV. I was especially interested in his quotation from Empirical Zeal:

Blue and green are similar in hue. Before the modern period, Japanese had just one word, Ao, for both blue and green. The wall that divides these colors hadn’t been erected as yet.

Fascinating ehh?

But along with that article is this one on colour names around the world from CrowdFlower which investigated whether or not people in different countries had different colour boundaries. There’s a lovely visualization on there as well which allows the user to check the colour names depending upon where the respondent answered and which country s/he belonged to.

It was interesting though in that it might have had more to do with the standard of English of the respondent though. I can’t imagine many people who speak English as a foreign language being able to comfortably use some of the more esoteric English names for a colour (I do love the word Teal – not a lovely colour but a lovely word).

But alongside the differences between cultures there seems to be a much more significant difference between the sexes. Data Pointed have another lovely visualization where the different sexes were asked to name colours. That again has a lovely hover facility where you can hover over a colour to see what it is names by respondents of different sexes.