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TYJ Colors

By Takasugi · May 22, 2017 ·
  1. Takasugi
    8.5. Colors

    First of all, please note that the colors you see on your computer screen are highly dependent on your particular system. Different systems often display different colors. The color files used here are adjusted for my system.

    8.5.1. Basic color names

    All Japanese color names are nouns, but the six basic color names shown below have corresponding adjectives. The Japanese basic colors are a system based on color warmth/coolness and lightness/darkness. The adjective of a basic color is a combination of the color noun and the adjective suffix い "i". In this chart, the upper words are nouns and the lower words are adjectives.


    It is interesting that brown seems more important than green in Japanese. Since green is not a basic color, the word あお is often used for it in old compound words, such as あおやさい "aoyasai" (green vegetables).

    Remember Japanese adjectives contain tense. あか means the color red, while あかい means something is red. Its past form is あかかった "akakatta" (something was red).

    8.5.2. Important color names

    Colors other than the basic colors only have nouns. Use a copula to make a color noun predicator. Most color names have the suffix いる "iro", which means color. You can add it after a color name if it is not there.

    The word はい "hai" means ash. The imported word グレー "gu",
    which came from gray, is also common.
    The word もも "momo" means peach. The imported word ビンク "pinku",
    which came from pink, is common too.
    It is the name of a kind of orange, but it is not well known. The common name for Japanese
    oranges is みかん "mikan".
    Western oranges are called オレンジ "orenji", and it is also used for the color orange.
    Light blue.
    The word みず "mizu" means water.
    8.5.3. Additional color names

    Color names shown here are not so common, but they should be understood by any native Japanese speaker. Japanese has hundreds of color names, but to my regret many of them are being lost, as Japanese traditions are being lost.

    Pale pink
    The word あかね "akane" is a plant whose root is used to dye cloth deep red.
    Orange yellow.
    The word やまぶき "yamabuki" means a kind of yellow flower.
    Olive green.
    The word (うぐいす "uguisu" refers to the Japanese bush warbler, a kind of bird.
    Yellow green
    Deep green.
    The prefix ふか comes from the adjective ふかい "hukai", which means deep.
    Dark blue.
    The word あい "ai" means Japanese indigo.
    Dark purplish blue
    Yellow ochre
    Dark brown

    Further reading:

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    About Author

    My name is TAKASUGI Shinji. TAKASUGI is my family name, and Shinji is my given name; a family name is placed before a given name in Japan, as in other Asian nations. My family name is capitalized to avoid misunderstanding.

    I have been living in Yokohama since I was born. Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan, which is just 30 kilometers away from the biggest city Tôkyô. It takes 30 minutes to go by train from home to Shibuya, which is the hottest town now in Tôkyô.

    I work as a display engineer.

    One of my hobbies is creating things with computers; creating programs, computer graphics and web pages is the thing I spent a lot of time doing. I am also interested in a wide range of sciences, and linguistics is my favorite. I like English and I like using it, but my focus is mainly on Japanese, which is my native language. I'm proud of knowing the language, and the difference between English and Japanese has been fascinating me. I have been thinking whether I can introduce it to people outside of Japan. My attempt of introducing Japanese with some Java applets has had more than 1 million visitors.

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