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A Surprising Look at Color

roy_g_bivRecently, Design writer Jude Stewart stopped by the NPR studios to talk about her new book ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color. The author offers a new perspective on the colors which surround us daily and how different cultures can view and describe the same colors differently. Regarding the relationship between color and language, the book reveals a fascinating link among many languages around the world. Even diverse languages, that share no common root, develop names for colors in the same order: “black, white, red, green and yellow, blue, and then brown.”

Stewart also shares a few interesting tidbits on gender, color, and the association of blue as male and pink as female:

“It’s an interesting question because we tend to feel that that’s a really immutable rule that must have been true forever, but in fact it’s a very relatively recent thing that that has become ironclad — actually in the ’70s.

But, earlier, it was a question simply of what goes with the child’s complexion. So the rule of thumb was often if you have brown eyes a baby looks good in pink no matter what their gender is. Blue eyes — blue.

Sometimes there were other rules. So for example, in Catholic parts of Germany it was the fashion to dress your little girl in blue, because it was an homage to the Virgin Mary. And then the boys would be in pink, because that was a watered-down version of a sort of traditionally masculine color, red.”

Listen to the NPR interview

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