• Rezultati Niso Bili Najdeni

6. Research design and methodology

6.2 My answers

The following is a portrayal of my own experiences of grapheme-colour synaesthesia, based on the same questionnaire presented to Nejc (although, some examples of words were tailored to his alphabet colours, to achieve a better understanding of his perceptions). My descriptions ended up being much more descriptive, since I answered the questions before presenting them to him in order to help him out with articulating his thoughts, considering there was a high chance that he had never before been acquainted with such an interview and would need support both in motivation and courage (it might seem silly to a teenager to answer such questions, however, he found it very interesting and was very helpful).

Figure 27 The words including negation but not having the initial letter “n”, are not coloured blue.

42 My alphabet colours’ diversity is as follows: the most common is a variety of shades of blue (“d”,

“l”, “u”, “v”, “w”), green (“f”, “m”, “n”, “z”) and red (“a”, “b”, “p”, “r”), followed by black (“i”,

“t”, “x”) and white/light grey (“h”, “o”, “y”), yellow (“c”, “s”), beige (“j”, “k”) orange (“e”), brown (“g”), and purple (“q”).

I also experience a whole-word colour effect. In words which begin with a consonant, it is usually the first consonant letter which is the dominant one. In cases of the word beginning with a brightly-coloured vowel (in my case red “a” and orange “e”), the whole-word colour will adopt the vowel’s colour; in the case of the other three duller vowels (black “i”, white “o” and light blue “u”), the role of affecting the whole-word colour effect usually goes to the first brightly-coloured letter in its vicinity (see figure 29). However, there are instances where two different letters which share the same colour collaborate even though a third letter may lie between them;

for example, in the word “interest” (see figure 30), the blackness of “i” and “t” groups together and overshadows the green “n” (the reddish orange of “e” and “r” following is inconsequential since they are already too far back from the beginning of the word).

In polymorphemic words, affixes are immediately coloured as soon as I perceive them, which by inference affects my coloured perception of the word. The whole-word colour effect does not take place in words with prefixes (if I am acquainted with the word’s structure): my mind separates the prefix from the base of the word, allowing me to see both colours clearly. Suffixes, on the other hand, are affected by the whole-word colour effect, yet they are noticeable by giving

Figure 28 My alphabet colours

Figure 29 Separately coloured letters vs. whole-word colour effect.

43 off a slight hint of colour if small (“-ly”), and a larger one if longer (“-able”), combined

(“-ifying”) or including doubled letters (“-ness” or “-ette”).

If the final letters of the base are similar in colour to the suffix, the colour takes over. In the case of the suffix “-ed” (see figure 30), it is sometimes orange and other times blue, depending on the preceding letter. In the case of “balanced”, the yellow “c” supersedes it; therefore, the suffix takes on an orange tint. However, in the word “interested”, the black “t” is a colder colour and makes the blue “d” stand out more, turning the suffix blue.

The “un-” prefix is a turquoise colour (mix of light blue “u” and green “n”), contrasting nicely with the red “beat” and is thus very discernible. In the case of “-able”, which consists of red “a”

and “b” and finished by an orange “e”, the suffix “-able” is completely red and therefore very easy to distinguish and remember (see “unfavourable” in figure 31).

In the case of double affixation, for example, in “losers” (see figure 32), the suffixes er” and “-s” are perceived in separate colours, because my focus divides them apart and also because the colours are very dissimilar (red and yellow). However, in the example “terrifying”, the letter “n”

in “-ing” is affected by the black “i” and dark brown “g”, turning the suffix a darker green colour (because the preceding “-ify-” is green). Similarly, as in “-ed”, the suffix “-ing” adopts different colours depending on the preceding letters; in the case of “singing”, the “-ing” suffix is brown due to the preceding “g”.

Figure 31 The prefix “-able” is more noticeable in a word where it is next to a contrasting colour.

Figure 30 The colour of the suffix “-ed” often depends on the preceding letter: if it is red/orange (warm) in colour (yellow “c”), the suffix adopts an orange colour;

otherwise, it is blue.

44 Compound words have a whole-word colour in cases where the second word’s whole-word colour is not as bright as the first, for example in cases such as “makeup” and “firework”. Light letters “u”, “w”, and “o” are too obscure or even transparent. It all depends on the colours’

contrasts and length of the separate words (the longer it is, the more chance there is for the other one to be distinguishable). The constituents of the compound words matter as well, since higher-frequency words are better distinguished than lesser-ones, thus emitting more intense colours; the same goes for high-imageability words, which are more easily discernible. For example, let’s consider the compound words “firework” and “sunglasses”. The former consists of “fire” and

“work”, in which “work” is not as imeageable as “fire”, combined with it starting with a pale blue colour of the letter “w”, the result is the compound having a green whole-word colour effect. On the other hand, “sunglasses” consists of two constituents of high imageability, so the distinction between them is greater, affecting the differentiation in their colours as well. “Teaspoon”

produces a mental image of a cup with very dark liquid and a steel spoon beside it. The black “t”

affects the colour of tea inside the cup and the yellow lightness of “s” in spoon, creates an image of a glossy spoon.

In cases of the word accent shift falling on (or close to) the accentuated letter, which has a bright colour, the whole-word colour changes indeed. In the case of “invalid”, the black “i” is less vivid than the blue “v” and therefore the shift in whole-word colour depending on the accent is easily observable: ínvalid is black whereas inválid is blue with just a hint of blackness due to the prefix.

In the second example with the word “convict”, the sharp brightness of “c” is too overpowering

Figure 33 On the left is an example of the second constituent’s colour blending with the first; on the right, the constituents have more contrasting colours.

Figure 32 The word with two affixes can either combine colours or remain separate, depending on the letters in the vicinity and their colour intensity. Examples

“terrifying” and “singing” also show the colour possibilities of the suffix “-ing”.

45 for the blue “v” and bland black “i” for them to pop-out. So even though the accent changes, the whole-word colour remains yellow in both cases.

Gemination of letters in a word creates an area of more intense colour, the same as in Nejc’s case.

The intensity of the colour can be high or low, depending on the doubled letters. For example, the double “o” in “tooth” is white and therefore looks like a gap in the word between the two black

“t”’s. On the other hand, “seller” has a streak of dark blue in the middle due to the double “l”, which contrasts nicely with the complementary orange colour of “e”. Of course, letters which are spatially bigger in font also emit more colour, therefore double “z” or “g” will be more intense than a thinner double “l” (see “seller” and “mugger” in figure 35).

Every word whose plural ends with the suffix -s gains a certain yellow spark (due to the letter being yellow) at the end of it, despite the whole-word colour. Its noticeability depends on the graphemes in front: for example, if there had already been a “c” or an “s” present in the word, the yellow tinge will be more apparent while reading. The words ending with “-ies” have the same yellow tint as simple “-s” (no added orange from “e”). The mental pictures change when the yellow suffix is added. For example, in the word “book” I always see a book with a dark red cover (dark red “b” and orange “k”), but when I think of the plural “books”, I see a pile of books shining like a pile of gold. It is always a pile of whatever the word represents and it has a certain yellow-ish shine.

The mental images change depending on the letters in irregular plural nouns. The light blue “v”

in “knives” helps creating an image of many steel-coloured (with a bluish tint) knives. With

“foot”, the “o” is white and I imagine a singular Caucasian foot, whereas with “feet”, with the “e”

Figure 35 The doubled letters create a wider area of colour.

Figure 34 The whole-word colour is black when the accent is on the first syllable of the word. In the example with the accent on the second syllable, the word

46 being orange, the mental image changes into a shot of barefoot people walking around in a street, with tanned orange skin. With “mouse”, it is the same as with the “foot”, where I imagine a single white mouse due to the white “o”, but in “mice”, the image is affected by the black “i” and I see black mice. The change in the letter is always perceived and the whole-word colour effect has no impact on the letters’ and word’s recognition (see figure 36).

I see function words as weaker in colour intensity compared to lexical words. The “the” in the beginning is most likely the brightest among the function words due to its initial position. The majority of function words are usually coloured black (“the”, “it”, “to”, etc.), muted red (“a”,

“an”, “and”, “am”, “are”, “as”, “because”, “but”, “by”, etc.), yellow (“can”, “could”, “she”,

“should”, “so”, etc.), or light blue (“was”, “were”, “who”, “where”, “will”, “would”, etc.).

Concerning silent letters in words, even though they are not pronounced, when I see them, none of the letters, and their colour, is omitted if it is the initial letter.

Out of the eight wh-questions, the mental images associated with them are not present with three:

“why”, “whose”, and “how”. The rest of the wh-questions have the following mental images associated to them, all corresponding to the distinguishing letters: with “who”, the image brought

Figure 38 Even though the initial “p” is silent, it has colour.

Figure 37 Function words are paler in colour (except if placed at the beginning of the sentence or if they are long, e.g. “after”).

Figure 36 The differences in letters of irregular plural nouns are noticeable, but the whole-word colour covers them.

47 up is that of a ghostly white figure with unrecognizable facial features (the whiteness corresponds to the white “o” and grey “h”); “what” brings to mind a floating solid dark cube, big enough to be held in hand; “when” is connected to an image of a grassy green hill; “where” has an orange “e”

and red “r”, which affect the image, making it that of a vast area of bare brown soil; “which” has three possible mental images, depending on the context. When referring to items, I see four one-meter-tall upright dark grey monoliths, positioned in a line, whereas when referring to humans, I see four grey human figures standing in line in front of me. “Which” as a relative pronoun is seen as a grey ball of crumpled paper, used as a filler in text. All relative pronouns are a bit paler in colour (being function words) and have the same “filler”-like mental image connected to them.

When reading a text, the mental images are of course very brief and happen in a millisecond – they are most often just a flash of colour and then my eyes continue onwards. Usually, the object, person, or place mentioned in the context, only adopts the colours which are associated with the wh-questions in my mind.

The “-ed” suffix is steel-blue due to the letter “d”. The images of actions in a way receive a certain bluish filter, which is associated with finished actions or memories of the past. Regular verbs in the past are easily remembered due to the steely-blue tint finish of the “d”. The combination of the graphemes creates a clean, polished look. The transformation of “y”s into “i”s is not as noticeable or distracting (turning from white “y” into a black “i” which connects into the final “-ied”, which with its blue colour creates a feeling of something done – like dunking hot steel into water to solidify the object, making it final (finished)).

Irregular verbs are also influenced by the colours of the words/letters. For example, “go” is brown and I imagine a narrow path in a field. “Went”, in a way, resembles a small river which meanders in the direction mentioned in the context. “Gone” is brown like leather boots which I

Figure 39 The underlined letters guide the whole-word colour.

48 envision; the same as with “go”, but the green “n” at the end of the word affects the image in creating a sort of finality of the action.

With “drink”, “drank” and “drunk”, the differences are in the vowels imbedded in the middle of the steel-blue words (beginning with steel-blue “d”). “Drink” is neutral since the black “i”

doesn’t change the image of a tilted clear-glass bottle at a person’s lips. “Drank”, however, creates an image of a brown empty bottle on the table beside (with the person’s hand still holding it). “Drunk” creates a bluish filter, creating a feeling of an accomplished act, similar to the “-ed”

suffix with the regular verbs, since “u” is green-blue.

The word “is” contains “s” which is already heavily associated with the third person singular, which gains the affix “-s” when concerning verbs. “Am” and “are” are two red words of a

“primary” verb “to be” (which is also red), and thus very memorable. It is as though I am focusing on the blood existing in the subjects in question. “Was/were” is very similar to “went”, but instead of it resembling a river, it is like a puddle for “was” and a mist of water droplets in the air (where the people or objects should be) for “were”. “Been” is red-orange and has no mental image associated with it.

Adjectives in comparative forms gain the morpheme “-er”, which is a mix of the dark orange “e”

and a red “r”. Constructing comparatives is therefore quite easy, since the colour red stands out nicely (as though the comparative form is an upgraded version, reaching for “better” which the popping and main colour red represents). These words do not have a whole-word colour effect.

Superlative form morpheme “-est” reaches the “perfection” or the “gold standard”, which is connected to the yellow “s” accompanied by an orange-y tinge of “e” while the black “t” adds a touch of finality.

The same goes for “more” and “most”, which are both green overall, with one having the tint of redness of “-re” and the other once again containing the golden “s” and finality of black “t”.

Figure 40 My perception of the comparative and superlative forms.

49 Although both words have green as their main whole-word colour, the difference is noticeable either by the context or the focus on the end of the word, with the “t” acting as a sort of a barrier or a wall, stopping the eye-focus and creating the image of reaching the end of a kind of comparing of adjectives.

The letter “n” is green; therefore, all kinds of negations have a green tint, which is associated with the poisonous green colour; associated with something negative. It is noticed immediately, no matter where in the sentence it is positioned, and colours the image of the context into a greenish colour. Over the years, I have learned to expect an additional red spot in the sentence as well: words containing “any”.

When “no” is combined with other words, such as “nothing” or “nowhere”, the whole-word colour has less effect because I need to distinguish between the words. Therefore “nothing” is green-black and “nowhere” is green-light blue. The “no” blends in with the word “where”, which keeps its blueness of “w”.