Monday, 25 February 2008


Okay, I just learned something cool today. Take a guess at what it is.

Ready? I'm going to tell you!.... (Isn't the suspense killing you?)




Dun dun duhhh....

A synesthete.

In particular, a grapheme synesthete, but to some degree, also a sound synesthete. The condition certainly isn't as strong in me as it is in some people - I don't perceive colours coming from each of these words/letters simultaneously, like some people do, but if I single out a word or a letter, and think of it, as opposed to simply look at it, then I definitely experience the colour.

Perhaps it's learned. The letter A, for example, is red. I figure a good explanation for this could be that the first time I really learned about the letter A, it was with the song "A, A, A, A, Apple...." (Whoo! Sing, Spell, Read, and Write!) It explains the letter A, anyway, although I have no idea where some of the colours come from, because there is no association that I can find. How on earth is Q a deep silvery purple?

My name, Carla, is also red, while The is green, and Wanderer is purple. "Carla the Wanderer" I have to consider separately, or I don't see any colour, although The and Wanderer can stay together, because The gets swallowed up by the purple Wanderer. Blog is blue.

5 is red, 6 is yellow, 7 is orange, 8 is blue. 3.14 is lavender, unless I contemplate the 4, which is orange. 1,000,000 is white, but "one million" is red.

I also associate colours with certain sounds. For me, it's not that a high C has a colour of its own, like with some synesthetes, but a song or a voice will have a certain colour overall. For example, the song I posted earlier, "Storm", is a vivid green mixed with blotches of darker blues and moments of purple - and they're all swirling around. Most of the background violin music to The Village is mustard yellow and russet, and instead of swirling, the colours tremble somewhat, and eventually fall. See, I figure that was learned, too - it's like autumn leaves.

Despite possibly having "learned" these, the instant association and experience is involuntary. I can ignore it and turn my attention away, but I don't get to decide what colour I want something to be. It just is.

I've always known that I imagine colour with letters and numbers - at least ever since I started learning how to read - and I told my dance teachers about the music/colour thing once, which they liked so much that they printed what I said as a quote in the programs to one of their shows. Regardless, I didn't know that it was actually a condition with a scientific name. I mean, I knew there was a thing called synesthesia, but I kind of laughed at it and thought "that's stupid". I guess is wasn't explained to me properly, or something. Synesthesia itself, by the way, is pink.

Yay! I feel so exclusive - even if it is a somewhat common condition, and some of my friends have it, too.

Admittedly, this post is nothing truly profound, but hey, like I implied, I'm excited.

My Dad's birthday is in a few days. I should really look into getting him something.

And speaking of medical conditions:
“'My doctor says that I have a malformed public duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre,' he muttered to himself, 'and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes.'” Douglas Adams

P.S. I played around with the title of the this post for quite a while because the colours weren't right. I just realized now that I make a habit of that. Who knew it would take me so long to settle on something as boring as "Rainbow-Coloured"?


Anonymous said...

Hmmm...your mother is NOT a synesthete!
P.S. What colour is "mother"? Is it different from "Mom"? Mommy? Mama?

Carla said...

Mom, Mommy, Mama, Mother, Madre, Matriarch... they're all red.

Papa, however, is green, Father is amber, and Dad is ambiguous. It keeps shifting colours.

Sister = pink
Brother = blue :-)

Anonymous said...


What is supercalafragelisticexpealadocious?
(not spelled correctly)

Art said...

What colour do I hear? Hmmm. Actually, I don't hear colours. Here is a question, are the names of the colours the same as the colour? eg. is purple 'Purple'? I have heard that some people can do amazing math calculations based on colours. A color is a number and when they mix the colors, they see a number. Supposed to be really quick to do calculations that way.

Carla said...

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? It breaks into chunks. Super = mustard yellow, cali = red, fragi = yellow, listic = light green, expi = bright green, ali = red, docious = reddish purple

Yeah, purple is purple, and blue is blue, etc. Except for tan. Tan is green. Go figure that one out.

Ah, can't say that I do math equations with them, sorry.

CavDawg said...

I'd never heard of this before. I feel educated now.

The way you describe it, life seems to be a lot more poetic with Sythensa, or however it's spelled. (too tired/lazy to go back and check.)

Anonymous said...

M is red for me too! Do you have colors for days of the week? For me Thursday is vividly purple and Wednesday is green.

By the way, Kim thinks 'A' is red as well, and in her opinion it is because of the picture of the red apple next to the letter in Sing Spell Read n' Write.


Carla said...

Yeah, I remembered that you saw colours, too, but I couldn't remember if it was Kim or Amy. I guess a lot of people report that A is red. It's a little more odd that we agree on M.

Monday = red
Tuesday = green
Wednesday = purple
Thursday = yellowy-greenish
Friday = yellowy-orangish
Saturday = yellow
Sunday = shifts between blue and pink