A contrastive study of color words in Chinese and English
There are different kinds of colors. Color is closely related to people’s life. In human language, the color words are frequently used, and endowed with plentiful emotion and cultural connotation. In both Chinese and English, the words of different colors are abundant. We should pay attention to not only their own basic meaning but also their deeper symbolic meaning. Due to the respective cultural background and tradition, people's feeling and expression to the color are not the same, so the symbolic meaning of color can produce great difference between Chinese and Western culture. This paper is to make a contrastive study of some major difference in color words.
Key words: color words , culture , western , Chinese
1 The definition of color
From the scientific definition, color is a visual phenomenon launched, reflected or caused through certain light wave by the object; it is one kind of visual essential features of human eye.
2 Basic color words in the Chinese and English culture
Color words in each nation’s language differ from one anther in the world. On the basic color words, there is not so much difference in English and in Chinese. In Chinese, there are 赤、橙、黄、绿、青、蓝、紫，while in English there are red, white, black, green, yellow, blue and purple. Owing to the different historic cultural background of the two cultures, the same color words have different symbolic meanings.
Red in the Chinese culture is a basic esteem color. In the Chinese's mind, it signifies excitement and succeeding, lucky, loyal and flourishing. In Chinese traditional wedding, people put up the character 喜, the bride is dressed in red, the bridegroom wears a red flower on his breast. On happy days, people decorate their houses with red lanterns and doublets. 红火 means prosperous, 红尘 means the world of mortal, 红包 is a red envelop containing money as a gift, tip or bonus. We say someone 走红 when he has his good lot, and 红人 means the one who is trusted unduly by his superiors. In Chinese, red has the most pronounced political color, and is frequently used to stand for revolution and progress. The first regime of the Communist Party is 红色政权, and the first armed forces is 红军.And 红卫兵 the red guard, 红色根据地 the red base area. Besides, 红烛 the red candle stands for dedication. Red also means beautiful and pretty. A lady’s splendid dress is called 红妆 , a beautiful young woman is 红袖 or 红颜.
Red in the western culture mainly refers to color of blood, and in minds of the westerner, blood is the “liquid of the life”. So the westerners always associate red with the violence and dangerous, for example red hands, red revenge, and a red battle. It also stands for radical and violent, such as r