Friday, October 8, 2010

Colours of English

Totally by surprise I fell upon a topic which is really intriguing. Yes, like the title says colors in English. They are everywhere, other than a BW picture or movie. They are also in English. "Don't worry you will pass your exams with flying colors" they say. Do colors really fly?

"His face will turn red", red with anger. Such a vibrant color red is used to show anger. Interesting, but true. A "red tape" what the? You caught me red handed there. I will not use bad words. Lets raise a red-flag and say this topic is really a tough one to crack open. Colors and English so vibrant, red hot combination I should say. I am actually out of red now. So lets go to the next color.

"He has hit a purple patch in his life. Now where did this color come from? Actually it comes from a roman poet, who wrote...." nceptis grauibus plerumque et magna professis purpureus, late qui splendeat, unus et alter adsuitur pannus". Which means... "Your opening shows great promise, and yet flashy purple patches; as when describing a sacred grove" and so it goes. The origin of a purple patch is from here.


"He is turning blue", "lonely and blue in a strange city", "Its a blue day"..... well I got to say .. where do these come from. Blue is the color of the sky and hence the sea. When you think on these lines you will get a lot more places where the color blue is used. Blue here means suffocation or depression. Blue day refers to not so good weather because of constant rain. Out of the blue, I get this topic I should say. Such thoughts come once in a blue moon :) :) 

"Its a black out", "black market", how can the color black get out. Black is considered as absence of color. It is actually not considered as a color if you ask artists they might give a long explanation about it. "Black mail", here is what I could gather about it. "Its origin had nothing to do with the post office. Mail in this sense was an old Anglo-Norse term for rent or tribute. During the time of border warfare between England and Scotland, freebooters extorted payment from farmers of the area in exchange for protection and immunity from plunder. As the inhabitants were generally very poor, the tribute was paid in "black mail," that is, grain, meat, or the lowest coinage (copper), as opposed to "white mail," which was silver. In time the word took on the meaning of any payment extorted by threat of exposure of an incriminating secret." It is pitch black around here, don't you think.

 "Hope this message reaches you in pink of your health" . Pink ?? Here is what I found.The general usage of this phrase has altered somewhat since it first entered the language. We now usually see it with the specific meaning of 'the pink of condition', i.e. in the best possible health. It is tempting but, as it turns out, misguided, to assume an association between 'the pink of condition' and the healthily glowing pink cheeks of new-born babies or energetic sportsmen/sportswomen and the like.The earliest citations of 'in the pink' are from the 16th century and, at that time, the meaning was 'the very pinnacle of something', but not necessarily limited to health. I already see pink elephants, don't you? :) I have a tickled pink feeling about all this.

 There is lot of gray matter here, kind of gets difficult to recollect all the colors. I am yellow-bellied when it comes to saying things at the appropriate time. I do see the world with the rose-colored glasses some times. That makes some go green with envy. Just hope the world was black and white, where everybody can chase rainbows. :) :)

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