Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Red, Black and White and First Color Words

 by  in Dutch Language
A fat and happy Tabby cat

It raises the question of why we call those with Ron Weasley-hued tresses redheads (roodharingen) and not orangeheads.
Well, wonder no more, because Gretchen McCulloch of All Things Linguistic has dug down into the annals of etymology to come up with an answer. It’s a rather detailed one that you can read here, but basically…
As with many languages, the first color terms to originate in the English language were black and white, with red not far behind. The word orange didn’t come into play until the fruit of the same name arrived in England somewhere around 1300. Oranje(orange) began to be used as a color name in Dutch around the same time (1282).
Of course, there are more orange foods than just the orange. Why don’t we describe hair color as being “pumpkin” or “carrot” ?
For starters, pumpkins were a North American thing. Europeans didn’t know what they were until sometime after Columbus’s famous sailing jaunt in 1492. Etymonline has the word pumpkin cropping up in the English language in the 1640s and the Etymologie has the word pompoen appearing in the Dutch language in the late 1500s. Besides, pumpkins – much like melons – come in more than one color, so naming a color after either fruit just didn’t seem practical.
As for carrots, they got there too late. About 200 years after the orange. That and the fact that carrots weren’t orange. Not at first, anyway. Purple carrots were the norm, but you could also get them in red and yellow.
We didn’t get orange carrots until the 1600s. And, what do you know, it was the Dutch who began cultivating them!
Orange it is, then.
In short, the reason we call them redheads is because, at the time the terms were coined, there was no other color option.
Perhaps it has to do with the advent of the word tabby to describe striped felines. According to Etymonline, the use of the phrase tabby cat was first recorded in the 1690s, which would have given the English plenty of time to adopt orange as a color.
So what do you think? What color does your native language use to describe our pretty friend above?

Make Toilet Paper Owls

Make Toilet Paper Owls

A cute way to reuse something. Cute for Halloween decorations, perhaps you might want to hang these in the bare branches of trees Trick-or-Treaters pass en route to your front door.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Shades Reveal Emotion-What to Wear on a First Date

 “Colors and color combinations create moods and feelings, consciously and unconsciously,” Kate Smith, president and chief color expert at color consulting firm Sensational Color, recently told event planning site BizBash. “Whether we realize it or not, color affects us and our decision-making.” If you want to rev up people attending your event, use red as your color palette; if you want to calm them down, use blue. Even the color of your logo comes into play here; Fast Company created a whole bunch of infographics last month detailing how logo color affects the perception of a brand, and it’s a fascinating read. It makes sense that Nintendo’s logo would be red — exciting! Playtime! Video games! — while IKEA’s would be yellow and blue — mellow, cheerful, homey — doesn’t it?
Or consider home d├ęcor: According to Billings Gazette, there’s a reason shades of green, blue, and yellow often show up in spaces like kitchens and dining areas. They’re friendly, happy colors that encourage communication — just want you want in rooms where people tend to gather together to chat and share a meal.
I’d even go so far as to say that what color you wear on a first date might affect how your guy or gal perceives you. According to the swatches included with the Telegraph’s article, a pale pink or peach might be seen as feminine or soft, a bright, orange-based red as perky, and a blue-based red as sexy. If the clothes make the (wo)man, I’m sure color has a good deal to do with the resulting image; if I were playing the dating field right now, I might be tempted to test out the theory myself.

For more about this wacky and fascinating science, check out the Telegraph’s article,“Seeing Red”; it gives a far more comprehensive rundown of the history of color science than I ever could, along with a whole lot of other fascinating info about the field. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Don't Underestimate the Power of Color

eye, blue, baby
 (Photo : BethLo/Flickr)
Caucasian boys are most likely to suffer colorblindness among preschoolers, according to researchers.
A new study of 4,005 California preschool children age 3 to 6 in Los Angeles and Riverside counties revealed that Caucasian male children have the highest prevalence among four major ethnicities. In contrast, African-Americans have the lowest rate of colorblindness in preschool boys.
Researchers noted that the study confirmed previous findings that girls have a significantly lower occurrence of colorblindness than boys.

The findings confirmed previous studies and showed the rate of colorblindness in girls is somewhere between 0 percent and 0.5 percent for all ethnicities.Researchers said the findings suggest that 5.6 percent of Caucasian boys, 3.1 percent of Asian boys, 2.6 percent of Hispanic boys and 1.4 percent of African-American boys are colorblind.
Researchers said the latest findings highlight the importance of early diagnosis of color deficiency as the colorblindness can negatively affect academic grades.
"It's not that the child is not smart enough or bright enough, it's that they see the world a little differently," lead researcher Rohit Varma, M.D., chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine and director of the USC Eye Institute, said in a news release.
Researchers said that educators need to be aware of colorblindness and should provide adaptive learning tools and strategies for children with the condition. Varma said that teaching different lessons or assigning special homework could help children with colorblindness understand concepts for easily.
"That needs to start early on because labeling a child as not smart or bright enough is a huge stigma for the child and causes significant anxiety for the parents and family," he added.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Even Pollinators Gravitate to Certain Colors

Himalayan Blue Poppy

Himalayan flowers have evolved to attract bees as pollinators, scientists have found for the first time. The study has implications for understanding the effects of climate change on plant pollination. 

Biologists from Monash University and RMIT University investigated the evolution of flower colors due to the bee's color vision. 

They researched in the understudied Nepalese steep mountainous terrain, and other subtropical environments. 

Associate Professor Adrian Dyer of Monash and RMIT said previous studies had shown that flower color evolved to attract bees as pollinators in temperate environments, but the story for either subtropical or steep mountainous environments had been unknown. 

"Mountainous environments provide an ideal natural experiment to understand the potential effects of changing climatic conditions on plant-pollinator interactions, since many pollinators show preferences for localized conditions, and major pollinators like honeybees do not tend to forage at high altitudes," Dyer said. 

Using computer models to examine flower colors as bees would see them; the team
 addressed how pollinator vision had shaped flower evolution. 

Then, with associate professor Martin Burd, of the Monash University's School of Biological Sciences, they did phylogenetic analyses to identify how altitude zones affected results. 

Shrestha said flowers from both subtropical (900-2000m) and alpine (3000-4100m) regions showed evidence of having evolved color spectral signatures to enhance discrimination by bee pollinators. 

"The finding was a surprise as flies are thought to be the main pollinator in many mountain regions, but it appears that in the Himalayas several bee species are also active at high altitude, and these insects have been such effective pollinators that they have led to the evolution of distinctive bee-friendly colours," Shrestha said. 

The research could shed light on how flower colors may continue to evolve in particular environments, depending upon the availability of the most effective pollinators. 

While 'bee colors' were prevalent at all elevations, flower colors in high altitude zones were more diverse and had more often undergone larger steps of evolutionary change than those at lower elevation, Burd said. 

The study was published in the Journal of Ecology.

Himalayan Blue Poppy

Don't you love it that bees have favorite colors? Butterflies too. BBL 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The History of Colored Garments

The desire for colorful clothing has driven people for centuries to develop ways to enable them to stand our from the masses. 

Catherine McNiff sheds some light on how people in ancient times created colors for their garments:

Since people have been wearing clothes, they have sought ways to make their garments more attractive, more aesthetically pleasing—more colorful. Greek philosophers Democritus and Aristotle and Roman writers Pliny the Elder and Vitruvius described and recorded recipes and processes to create fabric dyes. Most dyes derived from plants or animals, which ranged from the ordinary to the exotic.


Blues and purples were known as vat dyes. Indigo and woad, a European flowering herb of the mustard family, were used to make blue dyes. These plants required lengthy immersion in an alkaline solution of ash, lime, or most commonly, urine, which turned them into a water-soluble salt. The fabric was then left to air-dry; oxidation made the blue color fast.


At the other end of the financial (if not color) spectrum was the Tyrian, or royal, purple derived from the mucous gland of the murex, a mollusk. Not surprisingly, harvesting this color—a pound of dye required four million mollusks—was a labor-intensive, time-consuming, and smelly process. (The ancient Phoenician city of Tyre, from which the dye gets its name, was known for its reek of rotting mollusks.) Only the rich, such as the reigning emperor or monarch, could afford this shade, whose acquisition would ensure that his heir would be born "into the purple." Hope for the common people lay in the lichen orchil, the poor person's purple, which produced a purplish hue after a two- to three-week ammonia immersion.


Reds were mordant dyes; they required the use of a fixative to create an insoluble color that would remain true. Henna, a shrub, and madder, a root, were mixed with alum (a sulphate of aluminum and potassium) to render a color family far less intense than the red we know today. A species of female scale insect, kermes, was used by the Egyptians and produced a more vivid red. Similarly, cochineal dye was used by the Aztecs with great effort (70,000 insects for one pound of dye) and to great effect, ultimately becoming Mexico's most lucrative export after silver.


Colors in the yellow family were the least complicated. They were direct dyes, produced with little drama. Weld, the seeds, stems, and leaves of Dyer's Rocket; and safflower, petals from Dyer's Thistle, were used to create yellows

Read more: The History of Color |

Have a colorfilled day!

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Man's Point of View about Color

Color fascinates me, it pleases my eye, as a kid the louder it was the more I was drawn to it, had a teacher tell me once that was because I was ndn.
I don’t know if that’s true or not as people everywhere seem to be attracted to color, even going so far as to dye their hair blue, orange, or some other hue.
And then there’s that tie dye thing that is singularly about color.
If you’ve ever been to pow wow you know it is a celebration of color among other things, the brighter the better.
The pomp and circumstance of grand entries, women’s shawls, dresses, and leggings.
Not to be outdone we men can be just as color conscious where in the day to day our“fashion sense” may run to the more sedate and utilitarian.
The whirling and dancing at pow wow can be likened to a kaleidoscope when at times in the changing of focus colors blur into one another during the transition as though paint thrown on a canvas by an artist like Jackson Pollock.
As a people we used to apply paint to our horses and adorn their manes and tails, still do depending on occasion or personal inclination.
I’ll stop to admire a flower, leaves, bugs, or anything colorful that catches my eye, but it’s more than admiration, it is wonder and awe at the intricacy and the purpose it serves.
With flowers it is about attracting pollinators, bugs, maybe to camoflauge or ward off a predator, and it is a gift that our visionary sense allows us to perceive color, it would be pretty drab if the opposite were true.
A truly blue sky is guaranteed to win my admiration, especially if it includes puffy white clouds or dark ones rolling in ladened with thunder and lightning.
And I learned long ago if a woman asks if the color of garment she is wearing works to always say yes, or the opposite if they ask if it makes them look fat.
The funny thing about color is that while it can attract people it can also repel them when it comes to ethnicity, that never made sense to me and I’ve thought of it as judging a book by it’s cover – no telling what we might miss if we make a judgement based only on the cover.
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