More synaesthesia

Ren asked:

Do whole words have different colors than just individual letters? Does your synaesthesia affect the way you write? As in, do you ever try to line certain colors together? Because personally it would annoy me if I could see that colors in poems I wrote are totally random…it would detract from the prettiness of it.

And the answer is:

Yes and no. Whole words (for me) don’t have their own colours, but because they’re made up of letters that have colours they do look unique. For instance, the word colour is different from the word color because of the “u”. It is very helpful when spelling. Jewelry is a far less beautiful word to me than jewellery, which looks rather like what it is (I’m guessing that the framers of the American system of spelling were not synaesthetes). Synaesthesia and synesthesia are also different.

Two more things. One, my vowels are dominant letters. So the vowels determine the shade/feeling/look of the word, and they are modified by the consonants. So. The vowel colours are A-red, E-yellow, I-white, O-black, U-grey. And then when a word is polysyllabic, the vowels at the front of the word dominate the rest. So let’s go back to the jewelry/jewellery deal. The British spelling’s got three Es (yellow), two Ls (golden yellow), and a Y (muted golden yellow), and these all overwhelm the grey-green J and the brown-purple R and the dull bronze W. But in the American spelling, the R and the J have more prominence, thus making that word more muddy.

Two, I’m an associator, not a projector, which means that I “see” the colours in my head, not on the page. There are people who see the colours on top of or hovering just above the page, and these people have some trouble reading. I have no problem appreciating words as black and white on the page (or the screen) because in my head the letters have their own colours.

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2 thoughts on “More synaesthesia

  1. Not always, Ren. Only in that word. In words like “honor” and “color”, the American spelling is less muddy than the British, because for me U is grey. But the “u” in those words, strangely, doesn’t muddy the words as much as add some contrast.

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