Off topic: The Art of Color-coding your Language
Thread poster: xxxCHENOUMI
xxxCHENOUMI  Identity Verified
English to French
+ ...
Jul 5, 2003

>>True Colours

In German, if you are blue-eyed you are naïve. In English, if you have green eyes you are envious.

Being colour-blind in a foreign language, especially in business, can be confusing. On the other hand, understanding the origins of colour idioms can deepen our understanding of what we are saying. So blue-chip companies are so named after the valuable chips used in gambling, a suitable metaphor for the stock market. Bluetooth is named after the Viking king Harald Bluetooth, the man who united Denmark and Norway (short-range connectivity). Makes sense, doesn't it?

Similarly, official documents in England used to be bound by a red or pink string, giving us today's red tape (bureaucracy). Of course, this has nothing to do with der rote Faden. Having your partner say the wrong thing to you can feel like a red rag to a bull (provocative). Once in a blue moon negotiations are easier than expected (rarely).

The New Economy was a white elephant. Its supporters saw the world through rose-tinted glasses. Out of the blue (suddenly) you feel browned off (demotivated). Your old job was full of greenhorns (absolute beginners) and yellow-bellies (cowards). Thankfully, however, there is some common ground here also. Your figures are back in the black, after years in the red.

You get the green light on your project. A green card will open doors for you, a yellow card will teach you to play by the rules. Colour coding your verbal messages is using your grey matter (intelligence).


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xxxCHENOUMI  Identity Verified
English to French
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Original post would not take the rest of my message... Jul 5, 2003

OK now.

[Edited at 2003-07-06 00:10]

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Robert Zawadzki  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:47
English to Polish
+ ...
And in Polish... Jul 5, 2003

You are going green of envy (zieleniejesz z zazdroœci), purple of anger (purpurowy ze z³oœci) see the future in black (czarno widzisz przysz³oœæ), and want to finish it all with a golden shot (z³oty strza³ - an overdose of drugs). It is quite pessimistic, that it is easier to think of these, than of something colourfully pleasant. Pink-tinted glasses (ró¿owe okulary) certainly help you ...

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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:47
English to Turkish
Turkish in B&W Jul 6, 2003

So that you're "thinking black", brooding all the time. Could your problem be a "black love", that you've fallen for someone who simply doesn't answer your love? You're going through "black days" and out of desperation you "wear black" all the time. All day long you curse at your "black luck" and at night "black dreams" keep you awake. You deserve to be happy, to see "white days", but unfortunately you don't know anything about the ways of the world: you're a "black ignoramus"! As a "white head", who has seen so much, learned so much, I'm telling you: "Make your eye black" and express your feelings to your loved one. If you can't, then your "heart will turn black", you'll be left incapable of love and any good feelings whatsoever. What is there to lose? After all, "your one face is black" when you ask for something of someone! Go talk to your loved one, I'm sure you'll come out of it with a "white face".

Well, Turkish is known for its richness of color names, tons of distinct names for tones of color! But it also has plenty of figurative expressions with colors (except for turquoise hehhe, we don't call it with that name, of course).

When it comes to B&W... there are two blacks: "kara" and "siyah"; and two whites: "ak" and "beyaz". The figurative expressions I give above are all made with "kara" and "ak"; otherwise they would have sounded awkward and nonsense: "siyah" and "beyaz" are almost never used in figurative senses (the only exception that comes to my mind is "beyaz yalan", that is "white lie" - but it's adapted from foreign languages - and one day I'll find the translator who's responsible for that ) For example, I said "wearing black" above; in fact its original is plural: "karalar giymek", that is "wearing blacks", and it means "to be extremely sad, to mourn", but if you mean it literally, then you say "siyah giymek" (this time singular).

"Kara" and "ak" may be used literally as well, though rarely, but NOT vice versa. The other two, "beyaz" and "siyah" aren't used for figurative senses. So what are they for? Just names of colors? No, because black and white are not colors

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