Colors

( LEVEL - Beginner - N5 N4 N3 N2 N1 - Advanced )

Fun Facts: Colors are universal concepts? 

 

Interestingly, when people describe colors of things, they can be different from actual colors (which we can see in the reality). 

 

For example, Rainbow colors: if you ask “How many colors should be in the rainbow?”, people would answer differently in the world: they don’t always say “seven colors” which Issac Newton officially defined. Some people might say “6 colors” or “5 colors”, others might say “2 colors.” Why? Rainbows look different in the world? .

 

I suppose it’s because some languages don’t have words for all rainbow colours like English, and they would describe fewer colors. 

 

Now, let’s see some examples for unique color expressions in Japan.

Japanese people used to have only four basic colors to describe the colors of all things. The four colors are Red(赤), Bule(青), White(白), and Black(黒). Such limited color choices created unique color expressions and nowadays we still use them.

 

For example, people still describe something green with “青”(blue), not “緑”(green)

 

  • “green vegetables” → “青野菜” (ao-yasai)

  • “green traffic light” →  “青信号” (ao-shingou)

  • “green worm (caterpillar)” → “青虫” (ao-mushi)

  • “green apple” → “青りんご” (ao-ringo)

As you can see, color expressions are largely affected by the language background! You can find more unique color expressions as you learn more...especially idiomatic expressions, but you can remember that some color expressions are not realistic for now! 


 

Fun Activity: Let’s memorize Kanji with illustrations! 

Now let’s try to remember color Kanji linked to illustrations each.

 

*Please take note that the following illustrations are based on my inspiration from Kanji shapes. (Often people find it easier to remember Kanji by using mnemonics).

Red

Blue

White

Black

Green

Yellow

Brown

Purple

Gold

Silver

Rainbow

Colors

Copyright © 2019 Aki Moritani & Justin Rosewell