All Slavic languages: blue

DaleC

Senior Member
I am curious about the words Slavic languages have for the color "blue".

Here is a question I have had since I studied Russian, over 30 years ago. They taught us that the Russians do not think of голубой (goluboj), the color of the sky (nebo, obloha),as a variation of cиний (sinij), but rather as a color in its own right, just as green and yellow are different basic colors. Is this true about the Russian mind?

To the English speaking mind, голубой is a "light" or "pale" cиний. I see from www.slovnik.cz that Czech has the same conception. голубой = bledě modrý; and modré obloha = голубоe нeбo.

How about the rest of the Slavic languages? Thank you.

See also
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_colorshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_colorshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_colors
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue



Web colorsblacksilvergraywhiteredmaroonpurplefuchsiagreenlimeoliveyelloworangebluenavytealaqua


 
  • Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    DaleC said:
    To the English speaking mind, голубой is a "light" or "pale" cиний. I see from www.slovnik.cz that Czech has the same conception. голубой = bledě modrý; and modrá obloha = голубоe нeбo.
    I confirm (with a tiny correction - obloha is feminine, hence modrá).

    Jana
     

    MindStorm

    Member
    Russia, russian
    Yep, there are different words for blue and light blue, they are синий and голубой, that's right. And what so strange about that? they can de easily differentiated int the rainbow specter, maybe it is the reason..
     

    cyanista

    законодательница мод
    NRW
    Belarusian/Russian
    For a native speaker of Russian синий and голубой are as different as, for example, red and pink. I remember when I started learning English as a child it was hard for me to put up with the fact that there was no separate English word for голубой.:) We have words that literally mean "light blue", "бледно-синий" or "светло-синий", but these are other hues!

    I've thought it over once again:)

    it seems to me that our синий is darker than the "English" blue, it's almost navy blue. And голубой is (typically) what you would call azure. But I'm sure there are individual differences in perception of colours that make it next to impossible to define such things for once and forever :)
     
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    DaleC

    Senior Member
    Cyanista, thank you for explicitly confirming that. I wonder if it's the same in the other two East Slavic languages, Belarussian and Ukrainian?

    Is your purest, or truest, голубой a bright sky on a cloudless day? I noticed from early on the similarity of голубой to голубь, pigeon.

    Very few languages distinguish the color of the sky from blue. That makes Russian (and maybe also Ukrainian, Belarussian) special. Spanish seems to be getting there, because they don't like to call the color of the sky blue (azul). They call it "skyish" (celeste, from cielo).

    Cyanista said:
    But I'm sure there are individual differences in perception of colours that make it next to impossible to define such things for once and forever :)
    Actually, in 1969 it was discovered (as published by professors Brent Berlin and Paul Kay) that there's a limit to the subjectivity of color perception. The main color distinctions that humans can make are hardwired into our brains, and are almost the same for all.

    The world's languages don't all recognize the same number of basic colors. Berlin and Kay's two most important findings were: (1) humans are hardwired to agree -- pretty closely -- on which red is the "reddest red", which green is the "greenest green", and so on. (2) with minor exceptions, all languages that recognize X basic colors recognize the same X colors. (For example, all languages with seven have čërnyi, belyi, krasnyi, zelënyi, žëltyi, sinii, koričnevyi (brown). Some languages add these four: pink, gray, purple, orange. Russian also adds goluboj.)

    These findings are not exactly accurate across languages, but they have been found to be almost exactly accurate.

    Cyanista said:
    it seems to me that our синий is darker than the "English" blue, it's almost navy blue. And голубой is (typically) what you would call azure.
    That's very interesting because it significantly diverges from Berlin and Kay 1969 in two respects. According to that research, your синий should be our blue. Apparently, not only have you added a basic color, голубой, but the focus (or archetype) of your existing blue has shifted.
     

    Sybil

    Senior Member
    US
    Poland/Polish
    "Blue" in Polish is "niebieski." You can also hear "błękitny," "modry," or "lazurowy." :)
     

    Anna Mary

    Senior Member
    croatia,croatian
    In Croatian we have just one word for blue- PLAVO, but you can specify the variety of blue - AZURNO PLAVA, TAMNO PLAVA etc.

    Anna
     

    cyanista

    законодательница мод
    NRW
    Belarusian/Russian
    Very few languages distinguish the color of the sky from blue. That makes Russian (and maybe also Ukrainian, Belarussian) special.

    Yes, Belarussian has this distinction as well:"сіні" for blue and "блакітны" for "sky-blue". Don't know about Ukranian but it wouldn't surprise me if it were the same story.

    While we're at it, what about one more colour that isn't a separate one in most languages? I'm talking about hair colours: Russian has "русый" which is "light brown" to "dark blonde" in English. Do other Slavic languages have this one?

    (Jana, don't hesitate to split the thread if you feel that's another subject.)
     

    _sandra_

    Senior Member
    Poland - Polish
    Very few languages distinguish the color of the sky from blue. That makes Russian (and maybe also Ukrainian, Belarussian) special. Spanish seems to be getting there, because they don't like to call the color of the sky blue (azul). They call it "skyish" (celeste, from cielo).
    Just to add my 2 cents to what Sybil wrote:
    In Polish we have different words for blue = niebieski; and light blue = błękitny (or literally jasno niebieski). 'Modry' is an old fashioned word, mainly used in literature, proverbs and so on. 'Lazurowy', on the other hand, is more common, but still if anyone would say: 'Spójrz jakie niebo jest lazurowe ' -- Look how blue the sky is -- it would sound ..well.. overly poetic IMO.
    Anyway, błękitny is an equivalent of light blue, and originally was used for describing the colour of the sky. Now of course you can also use it while talking about sea, T-shirt. (and you can use jasno niebieski, niebieski for the sky as well)
    You mentioned Spanish, but similar thing with Italian, I guess (Jana, correct me if I'm wrong:) --> Light blue = celeste, azzurro. (Celeste also from cielo - sky) = Polish błękitny. //But while you would use Italian celeste for the sky, and azzurro for both sky, and e.g. eyes - in Polish it's always błękiny. //

    Take care,
    Sandra


     

    ytre

    Member
    cz
    One not often used but 100% correct: blankytná modř - that's sometimes used to refer to the sky blue in Czech mentioned earlier.
     

    skye

    Senior Member
    Slovenian
    We have no special word for the colour of the sky either. The standard word for blue is modra. In colloquial language and dialects you can also hear plava. The word sinji also exists, but it's not often used and I'm not quite sure what kind of colour it describes - I guess it's something blue, it's usually used to describe the sky - sinje modro nebo. Otherwise blue is just blue, it can be either light or dark, but it's still blue.
     

    Ora

    New Member
    Poland, Polish
    Hello, for dark blue there is also the word granatowy in Polish. Does anybody know if this word is used for blue in other (slavic) languages?

    Ora
     

    Tobycek

    Senior Member
    England, English
    If you really want to distinguish more in English, you can:
    we have cyan, which is greenish-blue
    we have azure, which is more of a sky blue
    and there's even magenta, although I'm not quite sure what that is!
    But we don't use these too often - except in paint shops!
    It must be true in other languages as well.

    I suppose the words are always there, it's a question of whether the speakers of a language feel they need a separate word for everyday use.
     

    kali

    Senior Member
    Ukraine - Ukrainian
    in ukrainian we also have two diferent words for "blue" color - a sky blue or light blue is блакитний and for a normal blue o dark blue the word is синiй.
    the official name of our flag is "жовто-блакитний" and no "жовто-синій"
    but there are a lot of modifications, like light sky blue o dark blue... its very complicated :p
     

    Zetarun

    New Member
    bulgarian, Bulgaria
    In bulgarian, as long as I am aware, we have a single word for blue which is син (sin) and we compose the nuances of the blue by defining them:

    небесно син - celestial blue
    светло син - light blue
    тъмно син - dark blue
    морско син - sea blue
    etcetera...
     
    Hello, I just thought I colud add some interesting factom Czech and ask if there are any similarities in our "Brethern-tongues":)
    In Czech one can meet both words "plavý" (as in Croatian) and "sinný" (as in Eastern S. languages) but neither has anything to do with blue, which I find interesting.
    "Plavý" means something like "blonde" (I would compare it to colour of lion´s fur or Sahara sand) - once I heard it can have this meaning even in Croatian, but I´m really not sure, while "sinný" which is pretty old-fashioned now describe, if I am not much mistaken, an odd kind of paleness and also grey colour (often it is/was used specially for unhealthy greyish tone of skin). There is also derivated verb "zesinat" , "to turn oddly greyish", which we just only in connection with persons.
     

    iretta

    Member
    Ukrainian-Ukraine
    In Ukrainian language, as kali said, we dintinguish two colours - dark blue and light blue...For the forst we have синій (syniy) and for the second one we have two words - блакитний (blakytnyy) and голубий (holubyy) - these two words are synonyms but there is a slight difference between them...Blakytnyy seems to be more traditional for ukrainian language and poetic also. In Ukrainian we call sometimes sky as блакить (blakyt') and голубінь (holubin') so you can see that this colour is closely connected with the colour of sky...
     

    Primorec

    New Member
    Slovene - Italy
    In Slovene language we say:

    modra barva: blue (colour)
    sinja barva: light blue, sky blue (colour)
     

    lorenz1616

    New Member
    Slovakia, Slovak
    Hello,

    basic expression for blue in Slovak are

    modrý, m. = blue
    belasý, m. = light blue
    siný, m., sinavý, m. = dark blue to greyish
     

    Seana

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hi
    I have just dropped here to add a little about blue colours in Polish language.
    Colour blue = niebieski takes its name from the sky = niebo
    But Sybil and Sandra mentioned about it.
    Meybe they forgot about cornflower-blue - chabrowy.

    I would like to call your attention just for versatility of the colours names.
    All countries have the same colours it is obvious and the painters in most countries use the same names for them and you all know these names very well ex. cyan, magneta, ultramarine, indygo, violet and the "most blue" for me - cobalt blue and lapis lazuli ( azure in English)
    I am sure they all have very "international" ( most often latin rooted) names. I use them when I buy them in the painter shops in Poland.

    But in the literature or poems are used other various names for blue colour more local and more romantic names.
     

    Maja

    Senior Member
    Serbian, Serbia
    It is the same in Serbian. Blue is "plavo/plava boja" and we have "teget" which would be dark blue/navy blue. Shades are presented with a preceding word, e.g. "golubije plava", "svetlo plava", tamno plava" etc.
    Hope this helps :)
     

    Pedja

    New Member
    Serbian, Serbia
    There are actually three kind of blue in serbian language:

    плава (plava) - blue
    сиња (sinja) - light blue
    модра (modra) - dark blue

    plava is also used to describe yellow hair
     

    Maja

    Senior Member
    Serbian, Serbia
    Pa Peđa, ne bih se složila da postoje SAMO tri nijanse plave u srpskom jeziku. Sinja je skoro potpuno van upotrebe, a modra uglavnom kao "modra usta" ili "pomodreo u vodi".
    I da "plavuša" jeste "blond".
    Pozdrav
     

    Glagol dobro

    New Member
    Russian, Russia
    Back to the initial question - whether Russians really feel that goluboj (light-blue) and sinij (just blue) are totally different colours.

    I personally do not feel that way. To me, goluboj is a sub-colour within the range of sinij. We can easily say 'sineje nebo' instead of 'goluboje nebo' even if the actual colour is light. However, the opposite is not true: should a thing be dark-blue one cannot describe it as 'goluboje'.

    By naming the word goluboj a totally separate colour the teacher, probably, wanted to say that Russians use it much more frequently than one might think by comparing it with the English equivalent 'light-blue' or other.

    P.S. Nowadays, however, people tend to avoid using this word that often as it has another wide-spread meaning - 'gay'.
     

    dahut

    Senior Member
    Europe - Spanish
    DaleC said:
    Spanish seems to be getting there, because they don't like to call the color of the sky blue (azul). They call it "skyish" (celeste, from cielo).

    Hello,
    Sorry to point out this since the thread is in the "Slavic Languages" section, but we don't say in Spanish the sky is skyish.
    The sky is blue.
    Yes, we have the word "celeste", e.g. baby blue is "azul celeste". We use it more to define the blue. But if you say, e.g. Which dress are you wearing? El celeste. We will understand that it's light blue.

    We have the expression "azul cielo" (sky blue), which I might say it's a tiny bit darker than "celeste".
    E.g. Tiene los ojos azul cielo. He has sky blue eyes. (Think Paul Newman sort of eyes).
    Nobody would say ojos celestes, it sounds weird for an eye colour, and it could be misunderstood with "celestial".
    Tiene ojos celestiales. He has heavenly eyes???? (Way to long poetic).

    Ok, Good bye
     

    iobyo

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    Yes, there is.

    There are actually 3 in Macedonian. We have сина, модра and сина боја.

    The first is the standard and most common word for blue, the second is a dark blue (the way we'd refer to a bruise) and the last is a substandard "dialectal" word from the North but just as common as the first.

    Then of course you have темносина ("dark blue") and светлосина боја ("light blue").
     
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    zigaramsak

    Member
    Slovenia
    I'd say that "plav" comes from German "blau"...

    In addition "sinji" in combination with some nouns is also possible in Slovenian (sinje nebo = blue sky), but I think it's rarely used nowadays, esp. in colloquial language.
     

    dihydrogen monoxide

    Senior Member
    Slovene, Serbo-Croat
    Slovene plav is borrowed from Bavarian german plau meaning the same. So we can say that plav is related to English blue, German blau and so on... On a side note there is a word plav 'light,blue,yellow' which is related to
    a) latin pallidus
    b) Slovakian plavy (with an accute above y)
    c) Polish płowy
    d) Albanian plak 'old man'
    Look it up in Bezlaj's etymological dictionary.
     

    dihydrogen monoxide

    Senior Member
    Slovene, Serbo-Croat
    That's interesting, because in almost all Slavic languages siv is grey, yet in Czech is greyish blue. Could you confirm that, is there a Czech-Czech dictionary available where you can look it up or I'll wait for someone else (not being rude).
     

    jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    Accordin to the dictionary, sivý means gray:

    sivý = bookish word, šedivý, šedý, šedavý: sivý holub; sivá hlava - popelavá
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    Accordin to the dictionary, sivý means gray:

    sivý = bookish word, šedivý, šedý, šedavý: sivý holub; sivá hlava - popelavá
    For me, "sivý" is "grey with bluish undertones".

    Note that in other Slavic languages they have a word for blue related to holub (pigeon), and "holub" is indeed what I think of immediately when I hear "sivý".
     

    Darina

    Senior Member
    Bulgaria
    In modern Bulgarian there is only one word for blue - син, and it indicates any kind of blue, light blue, dark blue or middle. Of course, if we want to be more precise we will say: небесносин, морскосин, синьозелен, сивосин, etc. As kind of grey mixed a just little bit with blue is гълъбово сив, so goluboj in Bulgarian is grey, as the pigeons are ;)
    However, we have an old expression - модроок, meaning darkblue-eyed but as far as I know the color модър means something like deep purple.
     
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