September 9, 2011

Les Couleurs

When I first learned the colors of the rainbow, they were as follows: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple. Then, in 2nd grade, my mind was blown away by the revelation that Purple was actually two colors, Indigo and Violet.

My color repertoire expanded greatly in 5th grade when I started using the computer. I would choose bright colors with new names, such as Magenta and Cyan.

And while now as a fully-grown adult I am aware that there are a gazillion names for a gazillion different colors (thank you paint companies), I still mainly use the original 6 to describe the world around me, with a few adjectives (dark, light, neon, etc) thrown in here and there.

It came to my attention one day while rushing around my apartment, that the French have more than 6 main colors to describe their immediate surroundings.

Je n’arrive pas à trouver mon saaaaaaac!” (I can’t find my baaaag!) I announced to FBF.

C’est lequel?” (Which bag is it?) FBF asked, starting to look around himself.

Now compared to what I had in les états-unis, my purse collection here is tiny. I have 7. They are all different colors.

Thinking the color would be the fastest and easiest way to distinguish this particular bag from its counterparts, I said, “C’est le rouge” (It’s the red one).

This, apparently, was no help to FBF. “Hein? Tu as un sac rouge?” (Huh? You have a red bag?).

Seconds later, I had laid my hands upon said bag. “You know! This one! My red Longchamp bag,” I said while shoving it in his face.

“Oh!” He exclaimed. “That’s not red! It’s Bordeaux.”

My red bordeaux colored bag.


  1. J is the same!! I tease him for it. He'll be happy to know that he and V have that in common :) (an affirmation of masculinity, if you will.)

  2. Random question, kind of. I'm going to start teaching The Girl (4) French and Spanish. I have copies of Levels 1, 2, & 3 of Rosetta Stone, but was wondering if you had any suggestions for teaching her French?

  3. Yep, not red. Definitely bordeaux. I wouldn't have found it either! ;-)

  4. HA HA HA

    That is a cute story. Bordeaux, isn't that burgundy? And isn't red Rouge?
    If I say something is blue and it has a shade of say green in it, my husband will call it green? Go figure!

  5. Amber: Or don't! It's more fun to tease them :)

    Joshua: Rosetta Stone is awesome! My dad has been using it to teach himself French and I tried it out while I was home last summer (it was too easy for me but the concept is really cool). A part from that, songs are really great for learning. If you have any French music I'd get her to listen to it! Maybe buy a book of French nursery rhymes for her to learn as well? Definitely watch movies in French. Watching French TV has improved my language skills so much. If you watch cartoons you can't even tell that they are dubbed!

    Emilie: :) For me, red is more of a color category, and then you have all the other colors within red, such as bordeaux or fire engine red. I think it's interesting that French people tend to think in smaller color categories than I do.

    Kris: Bordeaux looks like burgundy to me! And yes, red is rouge. My college roommate and I always had discrepancies between something being gray and faded green!

  6. I would say it's Bordeaux Supérieur =)

  7. That is a hilarious story about how we see the world! I love it.

  8. What a cute story.
    PS. Your bag looks red to me, well a burnt red to be exact but red is acceptable.

  9. Hahaha.. my Frenchman isn't so French I guess. He sticks with simple colors. As a painter, I sometimes come up with names from my paint tubes like cadmium red, yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, naples yellow, etc.. I think it's nice though, being able to describe colors in a more detailed way (I'm not just saying this because I went to art school!). There are so many beautiful colors that our basic color-vocab doesn't do 'em justice!

  10. chickster: touché!

    Kaley: I know! I feel like maybe I limit myself by seeing every shade of red as simply red instead of using a more diverse color range.

    Laura: Thanks for having my back!

    grenobloise: Maybe he's the exception that proves the rule? I should really use a more diverse color vocabulary, but I tend to stick to the basics.

  11. I love the Longchamps bag, I have a bright pink one!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...