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09/04/2014

The color of a ball-point pen

The color of a ball-point pen varies from one country to another.
In Japan, black seems to be the most communally used color when signing or filling out official documents. Some say it is because blue is apt to fade away, and others say there remains a trace of India ink culture in Japan.

In Europe and the US, it is said that blue is often used. This may be because it is easy to tell sentences in blue from those in other colors when copied, or back when typewriters were used, corrections and signatures were in blue.

The backgrounds mentioned above aren’t clear, but the most commonly used color seems to vary.

Take South Sudan, for example.  It comes as a surprise to learn that green pens are  sometimes used to sign documents.
The following picture shows a part of a document with a signature on it. Can you see that the signature on the left is green?

140703_signature

Signatures are not always written in green. According to local JEN staff members, a green pen is used specifically when the person signing the official document is authorized to make the final decision. For example, when JEN exchanged a memorandum with the local government, the government signed and sealed the document in green.

So, why green? In English, the phrase “give the green light” is another way of saying “give permission”. Some of the local staff members say the use of green pens is derived from this situation, or others say it can’t be.

Even something as simple as the color of a ball-point pen varies from country to country.    


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September 4, 2014 in South Sudan |