improve your English

A colourful question

It’s interesting how the importance of colour varies from culture to culture, and the way that impacts on language. In Western countries, white is the colour of weddings, because it’s supposed to represent purity, while black is sombre and suited to sad occassions like funerals. Our language reflects that, with white representing ‘good’ and black representing ‘bad’. In China, though, weddings are traditionally red, symbolizing joy, while white is the colour for funerals.

It’s the same with blue and green. In English, blue often means ‘dirty’ in the sexual sense – blue movie – but in Spanish, green is used in the same context.

I wonder if different colours are used in your or your students’ native languages, and whether that’s ever caused confusion in the classroom?

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Sharon Creese


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