Branded colors series
- Color analysis / color diagrams / color data of branded colors
- How colors were named through the years
How colors were named through the years
From the archaic years we notice color usage in many applications. From the daily life, to the many forms of art, color always had a special place. This brings us questions about the many aspects of color. And more precisely how could two people communicate when they had to describe a color.
Obviously the various etymological translations should be investigated from the science of Linguistics, but despite that in the present text we are more interested to focus on the way, which people could communicate the various color differences, in order to make comprehensive and understandable the color on question.
From the ancient years to our modern history, we see that he began describing the colors according to their basic hue, which he compared with the natural elements and even with animals. More or less the same is true today, only then things was far more limited.
Developing with time the various arts, mankind came up with the problem of a more comprehensive color description and classification. Working with the materials he used to create artifacts he began to understand and comprehend some more apocryphal till then aspects of color like luminosity and color tonality.
The need to describe these new characteristics of color gave us the first onomatopoeia, which was based in the categorization and classification through speech, of these two aspects. And thus the distinction of light and dark, and their values (too little, little, much, too much) came to be.
Parallel with art, the science of physics after observation and experiments, gives us a different structure for color. In the field of color onomatopoeia though these finding played an insignificant role.
Color description is now based on more natural elements in order to have a more detailed classification. And so we have color names like orange, indigo, cabbage green etc. More and more are the details and also the elements that man started to incorporate as we reach back to present. Colors has started now borrowing names beyond the natural elements, coming from materials, products, countries, cultures, regions, people, firms, companies, revolutions etc.
The result would someone say, that is so easy to get lost in the chaos of so many color names, if even the smallest chromatic difference had its own name. And how many are actually the color names a person can remember? If we try to answer this question by simply calculating how many words can a person commit to his memory we won’t reach at a proper result.
Imagine the native of a tropical island on the pacific trying to describe the blue-green color of the native waters to a native of Alaska! Obviously if the latter hadn’t travel in tropic climates, or if he hadn’t see any images from there, then what he would understand we be so far from the truth and from what the tropical island native was describing. Therefore our conclusion is that in order to understand the nature and the name of a color, the experience of it is absolutely essential. So how many experiences can someone have? Theoretically infinite, as infinite can be the stimuli that can cause the memory of a color and its name. We can find many examples like the above. This helps us notice that a generic categorization of colors and the accompanied names, didn’t actually solved many problems, and in the contrary left us more confused than the past.
So the question is can someone describe a color with words? Can the person who hears these words understand that color? The answers in both questions are of a dual nature. By coming to that conclusion scientists determined that isn’t it almost identical for someone to recall 1000 color names and using a numerical system that can guide to this color in many ways?
Of course it is easier to know a color system that moving by its rule you can determine the right color than remember a huge list of names of different colors. The direct result was the many color systems, that each of them on its own way, covered sometimes common and other times different application fields, managed to replace the color naming conventions with numerical values. In order to describe a color with the values of a numerical system, first we must become acquainted with it. Furthermore we should be able to correspond some of its numerical values, and the result they wield to a known color! So how it is possible for something that had to be replaced be so essential for it’s replacement to exist?
The final conclusion is that onomatopoeia and categorization of colors should consist by both words and numbers. In our times we use both these two descriptive models sometimes simultaneously! Behind a numerical value a word is hidden, behind the word a feeling, and because color is an emotion can at the same time be both a word and a number!