Green with envy

Today I discovered quite a good online translator that translates between a number of different languages from Arabic to Russian. I’ve been using it to get an English translation of the Arabic text I’m adding to a website to ensure that the text is going in the right places. This is necessary where the translation is inadequately labelled, or doesn’t follow the original English text.

When translating between Arabic and English, the results are often a bit strange, probably due to the very different structure of the two languages, but they give you the gist of the text. Here’s an example of a sentence in Arabic, with the English translation from the online translator, and the original English text:

كمجمع يجعل من أشد وأكفأ المنافعين لها منذ وقت طويل (The Green).

Online translation: The pool makes it more efficient Almenavaina time since fold l (The Green).

Original version: A campus to make many of its longer-established rivals turn green.

Here are Chinese and Russian translations of the same sentence with online translations into English.

這是一個令很多這所大學的長期競爭者眼紅的校園 [这是一个令很多这所大学的长期竞争者眼红的校园]
This is a campus which command very many this universities’ long-term competitors is jealous

является предметом зависти для многих более старых университетов-конкурентов
Is a subject of envy for many older universities-competitors

In English jealousy is associated with the colour green – the ‘rivals turn green’ with envy. The equivalent expression in Chinese is 令…眼紅 – ‘makes … (their) eyes red’. What colour is jealousy in other languages?

Another useful site I found today is an online spell checker for English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish & Ukranian.

15 thoughts on “Green with envy

  1. usually in my culture … Envy is colored red … well if jealousy here is meant to be envy then jealousy is also red … but jealousy usually i take it as something else hmmm colorless in my culture 🙂
    it is really funny how colors sometimes are mixed with emotional expressions! … yellow for fear usually ….. red for bad things and for good things as well like love! …… but green … i usually see it for good things 🙂 [this is my fav.!]

    >> Simon, you got my last email? 🙂

  2. It is funny how a lot of people see a certain colour for a certain word. WHen I think of numbers (between 1-9) I see a different colour for all of them. Yellow=1, Orange=2, Blue=3, Orange-Brown=4, Cream=5, Red=6 and 7, Green=8 and Pink=9. The same thing happens when I think of a month.

  3. Well, thanks for the new translator. I really needed one since I’m translating four French BD to give to somebody who understands English only.

    I couldn’t resist putting it though my usual test of feeding back the translation in the other direction.

    A campus to make many of its longer-established rivals turn green
    French 1:
    Un campus pour faire beaucoup de ses rivaux établis-plus-longs pour tourner vert
    A campus to do many of its bench-more-long rivals to turn green.
    Un campus pour faire beaucoup de son banc les plus longs rivaux pour tourner vert.
    A campus to make the longest rivals its bench a lot to turn green

    Read the above with pauses at different places.

    Unfortunately the translator’s not good with Parisian argot, which is my biggest problem since I’m a Candaian with no understanding of that stuff.

  4. I also see colors for certain things (numbers, letters, days of the week, etc.). I wonder if people generally see the similar colors. I would suspect that some things might be similar because of cultural influences, but that everybody would have different colors because of different personal experiences.

    Mine don’t seem too close to David on the numbers: White=1, Blue=2, Red/pink=3, Black=4, Cream/light yellow=5, Yellow=6, Green/Blue= 7, Red=8 and Brown=9.

    Days of the week: Monday=yellow, Tuesday=light blue, Wednesday=gray, Thusday=darker blue, Friday=brown, Saturday=red, Sunday=golden yellow. I remember having colors for the days of the week earlier than anything else, although this could just be my memory.

  5. I have a friend, from England, who I spoke about this to once and her colours for December, January and February were blue, white and a darker blue as it is winter during that time, but for me, coming from Australia, I see Yellow, Orange and Red. Probably because it is summer.

  6. I see February as pink, obviously due to Valentine’s Day. I see March as green, due to St. Patrick’s Day. I see April as light Yellow, due to Easter. I see January as light blue. I see December as white. I see November as brown. I see October as orange. I see June as blue.

  7. BG and David–It sounds like you might be synesthetes. I have heard that there are certain letters and numbers synesthetes tend to see as a particular color, but it’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

    0=black, traces of midnight blue
    1=light smoke grey
    2=new-grass green
    3=sunshine yellow
    4=brown-green (simultaneously, don’t ask me to explain how)
    5=luminous gold-orange
    6=bright teal

  8. Funny, I would have thought that the green associated with envy/jealousy came from Shakespeare’s green-eyed monster. I wonder if he was borrowing from earlier imagery.
    I don’t see colors in anything intangible and generally tend to be unaware of them even when they may be relevant, to my disadvantage at times.

  9. Funny. I figure that physics formulas had certain colors. Ee=(1/2)kx^2 is green and yellow, Ek=(1/2)mv^2 red and (deep) blue, and Eg=mgh is sky blue.

  10. Simon, Thanks for this link !

    I needed to figure out the context of some russian spam messages to create filters for them and the translators helps me with that.
    Already created two filters which are whirling along nicely 😉

  11. The association of colors with various emotions and the cultural variations one finds in regard of same is fascinating. Who knows why green is associated with envy in the anglophone world. Not yet ripe, hence immature and unwise? An association with Venus (the green planet) who was often a jealous goddess? It also seems red is associated with anger (i.e.”I was seeing red.” And Mars, the “red planet” is the god of war. Blue is often associated with melancholy: “I’m blue,” or “I’ve got the blues.” Yellow with cowardice, white with purity and innocence, black with foulness and evil, etc, etc….

    As many have pointed out, these color/emotion correspondences are by no means universal, but man seems to have always been fascinated by or convinced that there is some correspondence; likewise the fascination with possible correspondences between color and number, color and musical pitch, number and pitch, etc. But this is hardly surprising since man has always wanted to order his world—i.e. render it intelligible.

    One of the most pregnant words in philosophy is the Greek word “logos.” A dictionary of philosophical terms lists numerous meanings for the word, among them: “word” (as used in the first sentence of St. John’s Gospel, written in Greek: “In the beginning was the word [logos].”), “reason,” “ordering principle,” to name but three. Pythagoras thought the world could be rendered intelligible by numbers. Bach and Dante were devoted numerologists. Medieval Alchemists thought since the planet Venus had a greenish hue and since oxidized copper did as well, the planet must be made of copper. Moreover, since Venus was the goddess of love, it must be feminine. Hence, to present a unified construct, alchemists used the medical symbol for female to denote the element copper and the planet Venus as well. Likewise with Mars, Iron (oxidized iron being reddish) and male.

    With the rise of modern science during the Renaissance, physicists, mathematicians and music theorists began exploring the possible relationship of color and sound (musical pitch). The relationship of number to pitch was already understood and articulated in the form of mathematical ratios by Pythagoras. Many composers associated a particular pitch with a particular color. Alexander Scriabin explored this in his composition, “Prometheus, the Poem of Fire.” A contemporary composer, Michael Torke associates the color blue with the key of D Major in his “Bright Blue Music.” (Torke’s instinctual hunch is given some credence by some modern experiments in physics. For an interesting discussion of this see: , a website by musician/theorist Charles Lucy. I found it fascinating as well that in his consideration of the traditional Church Modes, blue is associated with the Dorian Mode [basically a d minor scale with a b natural instead of b flat] and that the first piece on Miles Davis classic album, “Kind of Blue,” titled “So What,” is in the Dorian Mode! )

    Sometimes, to borrow from a classic title in Anthropology, “man makes sense.” Cheers!

  12. The translation is sort of broken. I think there is a mistake with the word “rival”, it translates it as “al-monafe’eena” which is related to the root “nf'” which conveys the idea of gain or profit. The correct translation is “al-monafeseena”. In Arabic the color for envy is yellow “yaSfaru wajhahu mina al-Heqd”, “His face (turns) yellow with envy”. Green is generally a color of goodness, abundance, and bounty in Arabic.

  13. as far as I remember, yellow is the color of fear and sickness in Arabic, and for envy it is usually red, because it comes with anger and the face turns red in cases of anger I guess! 🙂

  14. Hm, in Germany you’d say “gelb vor Neid” ~> “yellow with envy” – but did I ever hear a person say that expression in actual speech? 😉
    I guess it’s not a too common expression; at least not in South Germany where I live…

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