〈31〉 ◆ chap 3 " The Japanese expressions & their secrets ! "
part 15. The secret of “aka”(red), “ao”(blue) & “kiiro”(yellow)
Let's talk a little bit about colour this time.
As you may know, one of the things that surprises foreigners when they come to Japan is our Japanese people's strange sense of colour. One of the first things they mention is the question of traffic signals on the roads.
|Is this “aoi sanmyaku (blue mountains)?”|
The “midori-iro” (green) is the colour of “midori” (shoots and young branches), the “murasaki-iro”(purple) is the colour of “murasaki” (perennials of the purple family), the “daidai-iro”(orange) is the colour of “daidai” (citrus fruits of the tangerine family), the “cha- iro”(brown) is the colour of tea(“cha”) stained cloth, and the “akane-iro” is a subdued red colour, dyed with the roots of the red pine tree “akane”, a medicinal and dye plant.
Nevertheless, do you still think it's okay to say the signal is "green"?
Yes, but “midori” is not a colour name. It is not only the colour of shoots and young branches, but sometimes it is also the name of a person or a place, so you need to add “iro”(colour) after it to be precise. This is cumbersome and cannot be used at a moment's notice.
But that is not the only reason.
However, there is an exception to this.
These are “kiiro-i”(yellow) and “chairo-i”(brown). I don't know what kind of campaigning these two colours have been involved in (laughs). But they seem to have recently joined to this four-colour "original adjective".（Yes, the word is alive!)
Then now the only "original adjectives colours” that can directly describe the following nouns are “shiro-i”(white), “kuro-i”(black), “aka-i”(red), “ao-i”(blue), “kiiro-i”(yellow) and “chairo-i”(brown). So, “shiro-i inu”(white dog), “aka-i porushe”(red Porsche), “kiiro-i himei”(yellow scream), “chairo-i huutou”(brown envelope)…so on.
So what about the other colours?
They are all nouns, so to connect them with another noun you have to add the particle “no”(of). The following are some examples. “midori-iro-no-sutando”(green stand), “murasaki-iro-no-nekutai”(purple tie), “kon-iro-no-kutsushita”(navy blue socks). However, “midori-no-sutando”, “murasaki-no-nekutai”, “kon-no-kutsushita” sometimes work too.
(Perhaps you noticed that “ki-iro-no-kasa” is also okay for “ki-iro-i-kasa”(yellow umbrella), but “ki-iro-i-himei”(yellow scream) cannot be “ki-iro-no-himei”. I've mentioned this a bit before, this is the subtle difference in nuance between "adjective" and "noun". (I hope you can understand this, even if only somewhat sensibly!)
Let's talk a little about copying adjectives.
Some colours are not only "original adjectives" but also "copy adjectives". These are only four basic colours: “shiro”(white), “kuro”(black), “aka”(red) and “ao”(blue). And It is used especially when these four colours are extremely dark.
The four colours are “mas-shiro”(pure white), “mak-kuro”(pure black), “mak-ka”(pure red) and “mas-sao”(pure blue), which for some reason change as "copy adjectives". In short, these are accompanied by the〈copy adjective〉peculiar “na”, to describe the following nouns, like “mas-shiro-na-yukiyama”(pure white snowy mountains), “mak-kuro-na-inku”(pure black ink), “mak-ka-na-uso”(pure red lies) and “mas-sao-na-umi-no-iro”(pure blue sea colour).
(Copying adjectives is not only a matter of copying foreign words, but also of changing and improving the original Japanese. The evolution of this is fascinating!)
———— How did you feel about the various colour adjectives ? ————
In Western languages such as English and Spanish, the difference between nouns, adjectives and adjectival verbs is not always clear. In Japanese, however, it is important to clearly distinguish between them and understand them. In particular, Japanese "original adjectives" change like verbs, so pay attention!!
Below are some 《 basic mistakes 》 that students in Japanese classes often make.
(It was very cold yesterday.)
❌ kinou wa totemo samui deshita.
(This book was not so expensive.)
❌ kono hon wa sonnani takai dewa arimasendeshita.
Of course you wouldn't make these mistakes, would you?
(Read Part 14 "Unraveling the hentekorin (weird) adjectives! (1)" again.)
See you next time!
Welcome your comments and suggestions.
ーーー The next post will be
This is published ⇧⇩⇩
I also have a Japanese internet class in Spanish, if time permits.
When you have any questions, why not give it a try? (30 € 2 H, 25 € 1.5 H, 20 € for 1H) Send me email → email@example.com Thak you !!
☆Copyright is not abandoned. You must contact the publisher to cite this sentence.