"E is for… Ecru" (poem)

There are TOO MANY colours these days
I’m sure we could ditch a few.
Some colours are really useful
Like orange and green and blue.
But would anyone even notice
If we were to drop ecru?

Yellowish-brown, or brownish yellow
Nobody seems to agree.
Basic beige does the job for me:
Let’s remove the colour debris!
Imagine a world without ecru.
Shall we just try it and see?


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Author: Al Lane

Writer, Poet, Daydreamer

9 thoughts on “"E is for… Ecru" (poem)”

  1. Hmm… I usually argue for all the variety of color names, but I’m not sure even I can defend ecru. And you’re right, a lot of the names pop up because they’re a way to commodify colors and make money from them.

    They say that if a color has up to seven words for languages, you can pretty much tell which colors they’ll refer to, with the only uncertainty being whether green or yellow comes first. More details here: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/449/could-early-man-only-see-three-colors

    Also check out the hilarious results of the XKCD color survey: http://blog.xkcd.com/2010/05/03/color-survey-results/

    1. Thanks Chris – loved that xkcd link! I recently read something similar to the first link, in that the colour blue is a recent “invention”. Totally blew my mind. “You mean the Ancient Greeks didn’t have a word for the colour of the SKY!”

      1. There was a section on colour in Stephen Fry’s documentary series on language (if I recall correctly) and he visited some hunter-gatherer type tribe in Africa somewhere (again, IIRC). They essentially have about 3 words for colours that aren’t black or white and, because their landscape is mostly dusty brown, they can differentiate between the 3 different dusty brown colours that make up their visual world. When shown a picture of something else and asked to name the colours they could see, all the reds and blues and greens were basically “dusty brown 1”, “dusty brown 2” and “dusty brown 3”. The really strange part was when they were given paints to replicate the picture and they couldn’t differentiate between hugely diverse tones and hues, using what we would think of as very inappropriate colours. It really did seem to prove that the landscape shaped their language as well as their ability to see and use colour – almost as if they were somehow ‘colour illiterate’. I just wish I could remember what the bloody tribe was called.

  2. This is so true. It reminds me of trying to buy toothpaste and other items at the store these days–way too many choices! Life was simpler when choices (and colors) were fewer!

    1. 🙂 I vaguely remember an experiment with pots of jam in the UK a few years back. They set up two stalls in shopping malls. One sold about a hundred different flavours of jam. The other sold just three. Guess which stall sold more jam? People want some choice, just not too much of it!

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