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青出于蓝而胜于蓝

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by Thime, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. Thime

    Thime Senior Member

    Italy (Venice)
    Italian
    大家好! Hi everyone! :)
    I was reading a chinese text when I found this phrase: 青出于蓝而胜于蓝. I know the meaning is "the pupil surpasses his teacher" or "the young generation surpasses the old one", but I don't understand why 青(dark blue) become 'pupil' or 'young generation' , and why 蓝 (light blue) become 'teacher' or 'old generation'. What's the connection?

    有人能解释给我一下吗?

    Thank you in advance and sorry for my bad English.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
  2. tarlou Senior Member

    Chinese
    Although both 青 and 蓝 mostly mean "blue" (or a similar color) in the modern language, 蓝 also meant a plant (note the 艹 part, which means "grass"), and 青 was a kind of dye that can be extracted from this plant.

    青出于蓝而胜于蓝 means "the blue dye, though comes from the plant 蓝, is more blue than 蓝". According to the same logic, "pupils, who are taught by the teacher, surpass their teacher".
     
  3. SuperXW Senior Member

    Wow! I bet most Chinese today only know 青/蓝 as colors, so do I! Thank you for your valuable explanation.
     
  4. tarlou Senior Member

    Chinese
    Well, the explanation was from http://baike.baidu.com/view/1951516.htm?fromId=192467 .
    Actually the phrase was from 《荀子 劝学》 “青,取之于蓝,而青于蓝;冰,水为之,而寒于水”. We all memorized this very well in high school...:D I also didn't realize this, until I googled it...
     
  5. Thime

    Thime Senior Member

    Italy (Venice)
    Italian
    Thank you very much for the clear and useful explanation ;)
     
  6. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    Could 青 actually mean "black" rather than "blue" in 《荀子 劝学》 “青,取之于蓝,而青于蓝"? According to this site (http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/青色), 在古文中,「青色」也有「黑色」的意思, and the example given happens to be “青,取之于藍,而青于藍”. The use of "青" to mean "blackish" still survives in certain Cantonese and Japanese expressions (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/青). 藍 is the plant commonly known as "Chinese Indigo" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persicaria_tinctoria), a source of indigo dye in use since the Western Zhou period (ca. 1045-771 B.C.). A color that is concentrated "indigo" (dark blue) must be "bluish black" as in 脸色发青. 鼻青臉腫.
     
  7. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    UK
    English (UK)
    青 can mean black in some context but not here. Here in the saying it obviously means "bluer than blue" and it doesn't make sense at all to talk about "black".
     
  8. tarlou Senior Member

    Chinese
    I always doubt what the color 青 is because there are words like 青丝、沥青...

    The Chinese wikipedia page of "Chinese Indigo" says the color from this plant is 靛蓝 (http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/蓼藍#.E7.94.A8.E9.80.94), and the color 靛蓝 looks like this http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/靛蓝, which is close to "bluish black". So you are probably right. But I doubt if 青 meant "pure black", it's more like "very dark blue".

    I think the 靛蓝 color is quite reasonable, because people were using 青 to mean all kinds of colors in 青天(blue), 青丝(black), 青山(dark green)... and all these colors are similar to 靛蓝 (they are either blue or very dark).
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
  9. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    It is supported by Baidu, which claims “青,取之于蓝,而青于蓝...这里的青,实际上指的是一种介于蓝和紫之间的颜色" (http://baike.baidu.com/view/130174.htm). "介于蓝和紫之间" is basically 靛 "indigo". The colors in my mind are as follows:
    蓝 = 靛 "indigo" (see the color in http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=...=X&ei=lAQ-UsvKKbCWyAHBroCICQ&ved=0CI4BEP4dMAs)
    青 = 深靛 "dark indigo" (see the color in http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=...=X&ei=lAQ-UsvKKbCWyAHBroCICQ&ved=0CIoBEPwdMAo)
     

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