[the palaverist]

Monday, August 21, 2006

[colors and numbers]

I have discovered a most extraordinary blog. 16 Colors elegantly combines the Internet's tendencies to spectacular pointlessness, acute nerdiness and accidental beauty.

I stumbled across this strange beast while searching for an online random color generator. And why was I searching for such a thing? Because I'm learning Korean.

See, when you're learning foreign vocabulary, you can often help yourself along by creating little mnemonic stories about the new words. For example, I can remember that sukje (숙제) means "homework" because I think of an Arab kid who'd rather go to the souk and smoke a jay than do his homework. Elaborate? Yes. Effective? Very.

There is some vocabulary, however, that is simply not amenable to that kind of mnemonic storytelling. Specifically, number and color terms just have to be memorized through brute force and repetition.

Koreans have a couple of different number systems, and while the Chinese-based system is relatively simple — higher numbers like 25 are just "two-ten-five" — the Korean native numbers, used to tell people's ages, have unique terms for 20, 30, 40 and so on up through 90. (Past 99, it's all the Chinese system.) To bang these beasties into my head, I dug up an online random number generator, made a long list of numbers between zero and 99, and then sat there for a while reciting them. After about ten minutes, my intuitive knowledge of number terminology had increased substantially.

Looking to replicate this success, I googled "online random color generator," and lo and behold, I found my way to 100 Random Colors 2.0, which is exactly what it sounds like. Hit reload and watch the colors change! (The site was created by web designer Regnard Kreisler C. Raquedan.) But somehow the random colors are even better in blog form. There are even archives!

Meanwhile, I should get back to mumbling Korean words at the screen.

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Blogger regnard said...

Thanks for stumbling upon 16 Colors. All the best!

9:36 PM  

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