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Grapheme–color synesthesia?

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Doitsujin
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
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1252 posts - 2361 votes 
Speaks: German*, English

 
 Message 1 of 14
10 September 2011 at 10:25am | IP Logged 
I'm toying with idea of writing a very simple vocabulary learning tool that'll color-code each letter of a word to somewhat mimic Grapheme–color synesthesia; I'd like to find out whether it'll help me to better visualize and memorize the words that I want to learn.
I'm obviously not a synesthete, but, IIRC, some HTLAL members are. I've got a couple of questions for the synesthetes among you:

1. Do you see similar sounds in different shades of the same color?
For example, do you see a P and B or an S and Z as a light and dark orange letters?

2. Do you associate warm and cold colors with a certain group of letters?
For example, do you see all consonants as cold colors and all vowels/diphthongs as warm letters or vice versa?

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ReneeMona
Diglot
Senior Member
Netherlands
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864 posts - 1274 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, EnglishC2
Studies: French

 
 Message 2 of 14
10 September 2011 at 7:44pm | IP Logged 
Doitsujin wrote:
1. Do you see similar sounds in different shades of the same color?
For example, do you see a P and B or an S and Z as a light and dark orange letters?


Yes. Voiced-voiceless combinations are usually different shades of the same color, with
f-v being green, t-d being blue, p-b being brown and s-z being yellow.

Quote:
2. Do you associate warm and cold colors with a certain group of letters?
For example, do you see all consonants as cold colors and all vowels/diphthongs as warm
letters or vice versa?


No, both groups have both warm and cool colors. For instance, n is blue while m is
yellow and a is orange while u is grey.

I hope that was helpful. Good luck with your experiment! I've heard of people trying to
recreate synesthetic associations before and I'm interested to hear if it'll work for
you.
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Levi
Pentaglot
Senior Member
United States
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Speaks: English*, French, Esperanto, German, Spanish
Studies: Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese, Italian

 
 Message 3 of 14
10 September 2011 at 8:23pm | IP Logged 
Doitsujin wrote:
1. Do you see similar sounds in different shades of the same color?
For example, do you see a P and B or an S and Z as a light and dark orange letters?

2. Do you associate warm and cold colors with a certain group of letters?
For example, do you see all consonants as cold colors and all vowels/diphthongs as warm letters or vice versa?

No and yes, though I believe this is due to the origin of my synesthetic associations. While the colors I associate with numbers and punctuation marks seem to be random, my letter-color associations were clearly influenced by a magnetic alphabet set I had as a child. For me:

A = red
B = orange
C = yellow
D = green
E = black
F = green
G = red
H = orange
I = yellow
J = green
K = green
L = purple
M = red
N = orange
O = yellow
P = green
Q = green
R = purple
S = blue
T = orange
U = yellow
V = green
W = gray
X = purple
Y = red
Z = purple

The original magnet set simply repeated the colors red-orange-yellow-green-blue-purple, though for whatever reason some of the color associations have changed for me. Anyhow, the pattern is still clearly there, so my associations don't really have anything to do with the letters' pronunciations. P and B are completely unrelated, and five of the six vowels are "warm" colors but only by coincidence.

Edited by Levi on 10 September 2011 at 8:25pm

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Doitsujin
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 3506 days ago

1252 posts - 2361 votes 
Speaks: German*, English

 
 Message 4 of 14
10 September 2011 at 10:46pm | IP Logged 
ReneeMona wrote:
I've heard of people trying to recreate synesthetic associations before and I'm interested to hear if it'll work for you.

Thanks for your post. Do you happen to remember how those attempts turned out?

Levi wrote:
While the colors I associate with numbers and punctuation marks seem to be random, my letter-color associations were clearly influenced by a magnetic alphabet set I had as a child.

Very interesting. What happens if you hear sounds that don't correspond to a single letter in the English alphabet (e.g. German "ch" /x/ or Russian "ж" /ʐ/)? Do you associate them with two colors or no color at all?
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Levi
Pentaglot
Senior Member
United States
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Speaks: English*, French, Esperanto, German, Spanish
Studies: Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese, Italian

 
 Message 5 of 14
11 September 2011 at 11:31am | IP Logged 
I don't associate sounds with colors. I associate letters with colors. The Cyrillic alphabet is interesting. Some of the Cyrillic letters are the same color as their Latin equivalents (e.g. Cyrillic "Р" is purple like a Latin "R", not green like a Latin "P") but some are the same color as the Latin letter with the same shape (e.g. Cyrillic "У" is red like a Latin "Y", not yellow like a Latin "U", which "Ю" is; and the letters "Б", "В", and "Ь" all take their orange color from the Latin letter "B"). The letters which don't have any clear Latin equivalents don't really have vivid color associations for me, except I suppose I would call "Ш" and "Щ" blue, and "Я" is most definitely red.

Edited by Levi on 11 September 2011 at 11:36am

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Bao
Diglot
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Germany
tinyurl.com/pe4kqe5
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Studies: French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin

 
 Message 6 of 14
11 September 2011 at 6:05pm | IP Logged 
I tried to explain how it works for me and suddenly realized that I don't have grapheme-colour, but ... phoneme-colour synaesthesia. I don't really see the colour when reading or hearing words, but I know it as an innate quality. Natural colours override synaesthethic colours - akai sounds red (well, bright, sooty orange), but aoi would also sound red if it didn't mean blue/green. Words that are written in a wrong colour are more difficult to read. The edition of Die Unendliche Geschichte printed in red and green was one of the books I found the most exhausting to read. Only black and grey (and colors close to them) work as neutral background colour. I suspect that if you made colour coding work for you, there is a chance you might also start having trouble with pre-coloured material and using highlighters.

For example, M is dark green for me. German and English B is light royal blue, Spanish b/v has a light reddish orange that turns more matte, like ochre or loess, when pronounced as approximant. Aspirated P is dark, reddish purple (plum), unaspirated has a lighter shade of purple. Korean M is dark mint green when pronounced slowly, and changes to matte dark pink when pronounced quickly, Japanese B is dark pink.
Aspiration makes the colour stronger and colder, tense and double consonants have higher saturation. Diphtongs and consonant clusters are represented by colour gradients, so are syllables and entire words.

These associations form while I'm learning a language's phonology, but they only become helpful when I already have internalized it. At that time, it works like a secondary filing system that helps me to access words more quickly.

Edited by Bao on 11 September 2011 at 6:07pm

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Aquila
Triglot
Senior Member
Netherlands
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Speaks: Dutch*, English, German
Studies: French

 
 Message 7 of 14
24 September 2011 at 1:59pm | IP Logged 
I am not a synesthete but I try to associate words with colors to remember the gender. Masculine words are blue,
feminine words are pink and neuter words are green. The words have these colors in Anki for example.

The word for key in French is "la clé" (feminine). To memorize this word, I visualize a big key made from pink clay.


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WillyJames
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Canada
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Speaks: French*
Studies: English, Spanish, Russian

 
 Message 8 of 14
27 November 2011 at 2:36am | IP Logged 
Bao wrote:
I tried to explain how it works for me and suddenly realized that I don't
have grapheme-colour, but ... phoneme-colour synaesthesia.I don't really see the colour
when reading or hearing words, but I know it as an innate quality


They are for my part also an innate quality that I can only perceive in my mind. When I
read, I dont see the letters in the colour I associate it. On the other hand, when I
hear a word, I see its color in my mind; the words appear written in their color.

When I think of letters individually my brain associates them with colours, but the
weird thing is, when I think of a complete word I see that word entirely in a colour.

Words also have a determined position around me or in my mind. (I know that can seem
weird) My mind has different places where words can position themselves.

Unlike Levi I dont associate Cyrillic letters with their Latin equivalents in terms of
colour.

And there's also some colour that I just can't name. Like if the color could not really
exist in real life. For those special colors I can give an approximate corresponding
real life color, but it is never accurate enough.

Bao wrote:
These associations form while I'm learning a language's phonology, but they
only become helpful when I already have internalized it. At that time, it works like a
secondary filing system that helps me to access words more quickly.


That is exactly the way it goes for me too!


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