Building a Standardized Colour Reference Set

Among the various conversations that happened over the last week, one that caught my attention was about having a standardized list of colour for translation glossaries. This has been on my mind for a long time and I have often broached the subject in various talks. Besides the obvious primary hurdle of figuring out how best to create this list, what I consider of more importance is the way such a reference set ought to be presented. For word based terminology, a standard mapping like:

key terms -> translated key terms (with context information, strongly recommended)

is easy to adopt.

However, for colours this becomes difficult to execute, for one very important reason. Colours have names which have been made to sound interesting with cultural or local references, nature (again maybe local or widespread) popular themes or general creativity. This makes it hard to translate. To translate colour names like ‘Salmon’ or ‘Bordeaux’ or <colour-of-sea-caused-by-local-mineral-in-the-water-no-one-outside-an-island-in-the-pacific-has-heard-of> one has to be able to understand what they refer to, which may be hard if one has never come across the fish or the wine or the water. To work around that, I have been using a 2-step method for a while which is probably how everyone does anyways (but never really talks about):

colour-name -> check actual colour -> create new name (unless of course its some basic colours like Red)

So, a natural progression in the direction of standardizing this would involve having the actual colour squeezed in somewhere as the context. Something on the lines of:

Colour Name -> Sample of the of colour -> Colour Translation


Salmon         salmon          ইঁট

It would be good to have something like this set up for not just translation, but general reference.


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