Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by afx, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. afx Senior Member


    Could someone please explain me meaning of 青 character?

    In my dictionaries I found that it means blue, green, or black. But these three colors seems rather distinct for me to have one common character, so I am bit lost here.

    Thanks a lot for answer.
  2. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie Senior Member

    English (UK)
    Occasionally you may see 青 with those ambiguous meanings but the safest approach on your part is to use these: 蓝(色) = blue,绿(色) = green,黑(色) = black.
  3. afx Senior Member

    Thanks for your answer xiaolijie.

    Actually I do it this way. But I am just questioning about 青 character.

    Is it OK to consider than 青 means one of these colors or it has some special meaning that is explained by presence of all these colors in its meaning?
  4. Lucia_zwl

    Lucia_zwl Senior Member

    Well... I can understand your confusion, because even I am confused about this color... It varies in different contexts, and I'll just give you some examples to explain.

    1.for green:青草 green grass

    2.for black:青衣 black clothes (in the old days)
    or when you hurt your knee, it will look like black and blue, we say 青一块紫一块

    3.for greenish blue: 红橙黄绿青蓝紫 red orange yellow green :confused: blue purple
    this describes the color of the rainbow, so here 青 is between "green" and "blue"
  5. hehola Member

    I recommend xiaolijie's reply.

    But 我个人认为这个问题比较难回答,不同的generations会有不同的答案...
  6. sesame_fr Senior Member

    青 is the color of the new leaf. 蓝 is the color of the sky. 黑 is the color of the coal.
    But in different culture, the words of color may have different correspondance.
  7. BODYholic Senior Member

    Chinese Cantonese
    In Singapore, 青 means (generic) green. We only use 绿 in writings or some fixed expressions/vocabularies/terms like 绿油油 (not 青油油), 绿茶 (not 青茶), 绿荫 (not 青荫), 戴绿帽 (not 戴青帽) and etc.

    But my Mainland Chinese colleagues do differentiate 绿 from 青. I was told that the difference lies on the color tone, apparently one is darker or more saturated than the other. I couldn't recall which is which now, because they never set in my mind. We don't bother to differentiate them in casual conversation anyway. For us, it is a lot more straight forward. It's either 深青/浅青. It's just like you can have 深黄/浅黄, 深蓝/浅蓝 and etc.

    Are you serious? This is an eye-opener to me. The only 青衣 I know is those from 青衣花旦.
    Could you elaborate slightly more on the black clothes? Thanks. :)

    There is a regional difference in this aspect. At a very young age, we were taught 红橙黄绿蓝靛紫 in school. The last two colors are indigo and violet. In any case, they meant the same thing.
  8. Lucia_zwl

    Lucia_zwl Senior Member

    In addition to 青衣花旦, there are several other meanings regarding 青衣. You may find them on 百度百科, and "black clothes" is one of them. Actually, as I said, this expression is quite old-fashioned, but you may still find it in literature, e.g. 他身着一席青衣, meaning "he is wearing black(or dark)":)
  9. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    I think the most famous meaning of 青 'black' is the 青蛇白蛇, the legend of the Black Snake and the White Snake.

    The modern meaning of 青色 is cyan in English. That's the green-ish blue that Lucia and BODYholic's colleagues were talking about.
    See:青色 Images

    Because I'm an IT nerd, I tell you that 青色 is the official Chinese name of the RGB/HTML color #00FFFF, in English cyan.
    See: HTML colors

    The rainbow colours are a continuum of different colours, you can't say exactly how many and which colours there are, because there are many intermediate gradation of the colours.
    In China I've seen both versions taught in schools:

    红橙黄绿蓝靛紫 red orange yellow green blue indigo violet/purple -> this is what we learn in schools in the West, probably this is taught in Singapore due to the influence of English.
    红橙黄绿青蓝紫 red orange yellow green cyan blue violet/purple

    We can even say that the colours of the rainbow are 8, why not? ;) red orange yellow green cyan blue indigo violet/purple

    Btw, what's the difference between purple and violet in English?

    For children learning English, there is also this famous child song:

    Red and yellow and
    Pink and Green
    Purple and orange and blue

    I can sing a rainbow
    Sing a rainbow
    Sing a rainbow too

    Well I learnt only this first part when I was a kid ;)
    Here lyrics and here video.
  10. Lucia_zwl

    Lucia_zwl Senior Member

    Hi Youngfun, you remind me of the tri-colour ink cartridge I just bought couple of days ago. The colours are cyan, magenta and yellow, In Chinese, they are 青色,品红,黄色.
  11. BODYholic Senior Member

    Chinese Cantonese
    I don't know that song but when we were young, we learned a short poem which goes like this,

    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    Sugar is sweet,

    And so are you.

    Well, this is not about red and blue. :)

    This is an image of a green apple.

    The fruit is always known as 青苹果 in Singapore. I'm quite certain no one says (or even understand what is) 绿苹果 here. But a simple Google search indicates that both terms are equally popular. Can I safely say 绿苹果 is the preferred term in China?

    I am also equally curious how people in Taiwan says it? I knew this song, from the 80's, called 青苹果乐园 by 小虎队. Any input from the Taiwanese?
  12. 南島君 Senior Member

    Taipei, Taiwan
    Taiwanese do differ 青 and 綠 in some context, cf.
    1- 紅綠燈,*紅青燈;
    2- *綠天白日滿地紅,青天白日滿地紅;
    3- 青衣≠ 綠衣。
    But sometimes they are both acceptable cf. 青蘋果/綠萍果 and i can't say i know why. :confused:

    It is not surprised that 青 is used to cover the "blue" and "green" colour in different historical periods and/or contexts, since they are "neighbouring colours" on spectrum and not easy to differ, as pointed out above.

    The real problem here is after Middle Chinese 中古漢語, 青 is widely used to convey the black colour, 青眼[晉]、青絲[唐]、青睞[宋] etc., and we do not have a widely acceptable explanation to date (?). Some people try to explain that 青 is used to refer to "deep green" and later "black", due to the dull and dark characteristic of the former, but i am afraid this reading is yet to be proven with solid evidence.

    I should probably also mention that I read somewhere that someone (sorry can't recall) claimed that 青 is referring to black in, and only in, Chu dialect 楚方言 at the early stage, I am yet to read the original text though.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2012
  13. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    I'd say same here. Taiwan usage coincides with the Mainland.
    绿苹果/青苹果 are both OK.
    2. is a poetry, right? :confused: ... you can't change the words. Moreover, if you want to change it, it should be 蓝天。The sky is blue, not green. :p

    In my dialect it's even more confusing. Especially my parents' generation use 绿 for blue colour too. :confused:

    Our version:

    Le rose son rosse,
    le viole son blu,
    ma il fiore piú bello sei tu.

    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    But the most beautiful flower is you.

    I know violet is also a flower, but I was talking about the colour "violet", do you know if it's different from purple?

    Yep. Thanks for the 品红, now I learnt how to say magenta in Chinese.
    Cyan, magenta and yellow are the 3 primary colours of the CMYK standard (Cyan Magenta Yellow and Key/or BlacK), used mostly in printers and photography. See CMYK (English) and CMYK (Chinese).
  14. BODYholic Senior Member

    Chinese Cantonese
    In school, we are taught 红绿灯. But colloquially, most of us would usually say 青红灯 (not 紅青燈). :)
    It's a relief to know that 青苹果/青蘋果 is equally understood in China and Taiwan. So it won't make us look stupid if we ever look for them in your supermarkets.

    @Lucia_zwl, @南島君
    Thanks for shedding light on 青=black.

    It's the same as how we would interpret 青 and 綠 here in Singapore. Violet and purple have different hue. Then again, it is too technical for commoners like us to tell them apart. In Singapore, when describing a color, we tend to use the word "purple" more often. On the other hand, "violet" can be found more in writings. As what you've correctly pointed out, violet is a kind of flower. I guess it makes the word, to a certain extend, sounds more pleasing.
  15. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    青红灯。。。yep, that is strange. :D Though in China a more formal term for traffic light is 信号灯, meaning both those ones on the roads and those ones on railways.
  16. Jun zhi

    Jun zhi New Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    Nice question~:)
    Basically, 青 has 3 meanings when referring colour, esp.in ancient Chinese poems, verses, and essays.
    1.blue, e.g.青天白日=azure sky and bright sun;“两个黄鹂鸣翠柳,一行白鹭上青天。”in 杜甫’s《绝句》;“青天有月来几时?我今停杯一问之。”in 李白’s《把酒问月》
    2.green, e.g.青苔=green moss;"青青河畔,郁郁园中柳。"or “青青陵上,磊磊涧中石。”in 《古诗十九首》;“青山隐隐水迢迢,秋尽江南草未凋。”in 杜牧‘s《寄扬州韩绰判官》
    3.black, e.g.青丝=black hair;“君不见高堂明镜悲白发,朝如青丝暮成雪。”in 李白‘s《将进酒》;“座中泣下谁最多,江州司马青衫湿。”in白居易’s《琵琶行》
    It is more exquisite and elegant to employ "青" to refer colour, esp. blue and black. Thus, this usage usually can be found in articles and is more appropriate to literature rather than everyday speech. If you use it in your spoken language, some will think your breeding is good,while others may consider you are a little bit pedantic.:D

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