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Picture of Kalleh
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In a book I am reading, one of the characters says, "'Thursday' seems like a 'purple' word to me."

Does anyone else think of some words as having colors (ahhh...not the 'colors' of course!)? Maybe I am just being influenced by thinking that Thursdays are purple, but now that I think about it, I can see that Wednesday is green.
 
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It could be a poetic description, or it could be trying to suggest that the character is a synaesthete. I don't experience synaesthesia but I have a friend who does. It's not common: about 1/25,000 individuals.

Some reading.
 
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Picture of jheem
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synaesthesia

Nabokov has a great chapter on his synaesthesia in his Speak, Memory. Skriabin associated colors with notes and even designed a color organ. Isee that the article linked to mentions them both, along with David Hockney.

Synesthetes are normal in the conventional sense. They appear bright, and hail from all walks of life. The impression that they are inherently "artistic" seems to me a sampling bias, given that famous synesthetes such as Valdimir Nabokov, Olivier Messiaen, David Hockney, and Alexander Scriabin are well-known because of their art rather than their synesthesia. Clinically, synesthetes seem mentally balanced. Their MMPIs are unremarkable except for non-stereotypical male-female scales. Standard neurological exams are also normal. [sec. 2.7]
 
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Looking at it from a completely different angle: since there are seven chakras and seven days of the week, and the chakras each have an associated colour, maybe it's not so big a leap Smile.

And, of course, seven colours in the spectrum (I like spotting patterns).
 
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I'm not synaesthetic by any means, but I find I have vague associations of that kind. I suspect they're just random connexions in the neurones that have fortuitously been strengthened a little: that is, I doubt that my feelings are the same as weaker forms of synaesthesia.

Tchaikovsky gave colours to some of his symphonies (4th red, 5th green, if I remember rightly) and I agree with those: in fact the fiery dynamics of the 4th makes it sort of obvious. But Scriabin, the best-known synaesthete of all, gave entirely different colours to the same works, associations I find bizarre: such as blue-white for the 4th (I'm not saying that was it, but something like that).

I suspect you could make weak but reasonable-sounding connexions with any two things. Instead of describing, say, accents, as nasal, lilting, whiny, or stuck-up, you could borrow wine terminology and assign them at random: West Midlands = grassy, South African = blackcurrant, Arkansas = tarry, Northern Ireland = banana. I think they could catch on.

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Wow, I hadn't heard of "synaesthesia" before. It sounds very interesting. I wonder why the MMPI of those with synaesthesia shows non-stereotypical male-female scales. I can't see how that would be related.
 
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kalleh's opening disclaimer "not the color of color words" reminds me of a test on psychological interference.

Imagine a block of color words, but each word is in a different color. So "red" is printed in green, "yellow" in blue, "orange" in purple. People have varying abilities to read the list, focusing on text and ignoring the distracting dye.


RJA
 
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Oh, that was great, Robert! I found that I did much better with practice. In the first test, I said 'brown' instead of 'green.' By the second one, I flew through them.

It reminds me of what I have always wondered. I wonder if we all maybe see different colors, but we have learned what to call them. For example, maybe when I see what Robert knows as yellow, I see what Robert knows as red. However, we have both learned that color as yellow. I doubt we will ever find that answer out, though.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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Couldn't one positively establish that all see the same colors by using a prism? The various colors always fall in their respective places, so three down would be the same color for all, as would the top one, etc. Only the color blind would fall outside this test.
 
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“The colours red, blue and green are real. The colour yellow is a mystical experience shared by everybody.” (Stoppard, 1967).

Asa is correct, objectively. But as above, some wonder if the "experience" is the same -- what is "in one's head" when a 590 nm wavelength hits the retina.

Might be the same philosophers who wondered if "Nothing" was distinct and different from nothing...


RJA
 
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The word "ideas" always had a colorless green feel to it, don't you think?
 
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I always thought the idea of colorless green felt more like an aquamarine oxymoron.

But that's just me.

~~~ jerry

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The word "ideas" always had a colorless green feel to it,

Well, Sean, I am more literal than that. An idea to me is bright, as in...here's an idea! So, "idea" is bright yellow to me.
 
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colorless green

Aye, and they made me furiously sleepy, too.
 
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I was about to make a Chomsky joke, but I realized that probably isn't such a good idea on this forum. : )

Anyway, for those who missed it, jheem and I were referring to the famous Chomsky sentence "colorless green ideas sleep furiously", which while grammatically correct, makes absolutely no sense.
 
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I think there was an essay contest in which the goal was to use the phrase within an essay such that it made sense. The winning one, I recall, was about the genetic instructions and metabolism going on inside a seed in the soil. Something like "Deep in the soil, colorless green ideas sleep furiously".
 
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makes absolutely no sense

Seanahan, the interesting thing is that "senseless" grammatical sentences do have meaning, even if some find them meaningless. For example, the phrase "colorless green ideas" has always struck me as similar in meaning to "banal, premature thoughts". Sometimes ungrammatical sentences can make sense, too. We, homines loquentes, try very hard to make sense of things (usually) and sometimes succeed. Chomsky used his example sentence as a one-off and has no doubt bewcome a little perturbed by its longevity and its champions.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned Jabberwocky in this context. Exquisitely sensible nonsense.
 
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Am I the only one who thinks Jabberwocky makes sense? Wink

Back to the question of whether we share qualia:
In the realm of your senses
 
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Am I the only one who thinks Jabberwocky makes sense?

How could it not with that indefatigable hermeneute Humpty Dumpty in charge of explicating? But I prefer it in the original:

Praesens ecce! Oculis eui fera flamma micat
Ipse Gaberbocchus dumeta per horrida sifflans
Ibat, et horrendum burbuliabat iens!
 
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"original" Wink

I know this is completely off-topic but I had to post a link to The Jabberwocky Variations.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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Today on NPR there was a discussion of synaesthesia. One researcher opined that as neonates we are all synaesthetes, but our senses differentiate as we begin to experience the world to a greater degree. Some of us are fortunate enough to not lose it, however.
 
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Picture of Richard English
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There was a programme about six months ago on the Beeb that came to similar conclusions. The suggestion there was that most people are synaesthetic to an extent although few realise it. Some people retain it to a high degree but even they do not always appreciate that this is especially unusual.

To be logical about it, sensory perception must be unique and personal since we none of us can know for sure what other people are sensing. Only by analogy when we compare sensory experiences and we must, even then assume that the experience is the same for all of us. So my yellow might be quite different from your yellow - but we'll never know for sure.


Richard English
 
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Picture of BobHale
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quote:
Originally posted by jheem:
Am I the only one who thinks Jabberwocky makes sense?

How could it not with that indefatigable hermeneute Humpty Dumpty in charge of explicating? But I prefer it in the original:

Praesens ecce! Oculis eui fera flamma micat
Ipse Gaberbocchus dumeta per horrida sifflans
Ibat, et horrendum burbuliabat iens!


How did I miss this thread before?

I think you'll find the Latin is a poor translation of the Klingon original.

puqloDwI' ja'pu'vawq Dayep
pe'vIl chop Ho'Du'Daj; pe'vIl Suq pachDu'Daj
Ha'DIbaH puv juchyub yIyep
bInDepSuHach vaQeHmuS ghombe' DanIDjaj


'etlhDaj veSpatlh HujtaH ghopDaj--
jagh HoSlaw' law' veqlargh Hos puS! nIteb nej nI'
vaj Sor tamtam, ghaH retlhDaq Qam
nI'be' leSlI' ghah (Sor retlhDaq) 'ej ghaH QublI'
 
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Picture of Caterwauller
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quote:
Some people retain it to a high degree but even they do not always appreciate that this is especially unusual.


How can we possibly judge this? How can I really tell what yellow looks like to you? And is your description just a different way of describing things, or do we just know different words, or is it really a difference in perception?

Fascinating questions.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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Picture of Richard English
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quote:
Some people retain it to a high degree but even they do not always appreciate that this is especially unusual.
How can we possibly judge this?


In suspect we all have talents and abilities - often extreme - which, unless we happen to have reason to compare our abilities with others, we are unaware of. A synaesthete might not realise that other people don't see the word "taxi" as black or the number "nine" as yellow and assume that this is very much the norm. And unless the occasion arose to compare this perception with another, then why should the synaesthete find out?


Richard English
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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I was searching for something else and found this great site about synaesthesia.
 
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I confess that I am not the 1/25000 because I just don't associate any abstract words with colours. I suppose I see the word 'summer' as blue but I assume that this is because I associate it with clear blue skies.

I've just brought this up with a couple of my Year 8 girls and they tell me that Monday is green, Tuesday is yellow, Thursday is purple and the rest of the week is pink. They seemed very sure about this but I am left totally bemused by it all Roll Eyes
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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I am reminded of the title of an old Swedish movie: "I Am Curious (Yellow)".
 
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quote:
Monday is green, Tuesday is yellow, Thursday is purple and the rest of the week is pink.


I wonder if they have "days of the week" underwear? Don't ask them, though!


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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