The Truth About Color

The Truth About Color

Take a really good look at this picture - can you tell me which square is red?

Maybe you pick the left one, maybe the one in the middle. Maybe you say they all are. The truth is that color is subjective. Individually, I would say that theyʻre all red, but lined up next to one another I might say one is crimson, one is red, and one is ruby. Who knows? You could ask me again tomorrow and I might change my mind altogether.

This is a link to a super video that gives some insights on color and language. It's like 2 minutes long (1 on double playback) so go watch it.

As I've made my color cards, I have read old newspaper articles, gone back to childhood memories, and talked to friends and native speakers in an effort to understand colors and the Hawaiian Language. For the most part they were similar, but where they differed I realized that you didn't need to be a native speaker to understand why. You just have to be a person with a mind of your own.

Culture, language, time, and place have influenced how we see color so what it really comes down to is how to communicate it to one another. After all of my research, I feel confident in being able to call the colors on my card set by the words put next to them. I also understand though, that someone else might call blue, "polū" or yellow, "lenalena" or gray, "ʻāhinahina."

Whatʻs important is communication. Iʻm not worried about what I call the colors I see because I know the words that others use as well, just like I know ruby, crimson, and red. Learn and share, share and learn! Here's a good place to start:


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Mahalo nui loa! The Duolingo course only has red, black and blue but this diagram is perfect.


Mahalo nui for these resources. My keiki are 7 and 10 and these are perfect to get them started with basic ‘ōlelo Hawai’i!


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