When I was just a wee lad I used to visit my grandparents on occasion. Not having raised children in several decades, there weren’t too many things at their house that could entertain a little tyke like me. They had a computer with an inexplicably large number of games on it (hello, Wolfenstein 3D!) and an over-sized Checkers set with a handknit “board”, but while I was still very young I spent a good deal of my time playing with colorful alphabet refrigerator magnets. They looked like this:
Being an impressionable kid in my formative years, those letters and their respective colors latched onto my grey matter and have refused to let go. As a result, I often see written words as combinations of these colorful letters. Name a letter and I’ll tell you its color without hesitation. This condition is known as synesthesia, specifically, grapheme-color synesthesia, and the jury is still out on whether or not it can actually be acquired by playing with colored letters.
It’s interesting to see things like this; I prefer some words to other because of their color combinations. I like blue and green more than yellow and orange, so I favor words with a lot of ‘e’s more than those with numerous ‘i’s, ‘o’s, or ‘u’s. In addition, some words have a certain feel to them based solely on the letter they begin with. Sometimes this works out nicely; the word “water” looks blue at first glance.
Now, this doesn’t happen all the time. I usually subconsciously tune the colors out, but with a tiny amount of concentration they can soon begin to appear. For example, right now I can‘t help but see everything in these colors, an occurrence surely augmented by the fact that all of the colored letters are right up there and I can see them as I write this.
I don’t know how many other people have this quirk, but if you want to screw up your kid’s perception of written language, give them a colorful alphabet to play with. A couple hours here and there are enough to leave a lasting impact, still strong after twenty years or so.