Colour-Related Idiomatic Expressions in English and Kurdish
Colour is a powerful communication tool and can convey different positive and negative messages. Apart from their denotative meanings, colours have different connotations in different languages and cultures. Many of these connotations are very clearly observed in their use of colour idiomatic expressions. This study explores the different meanings and connotations of the basic colour terms and their usage in idiomatic expressions in English and Kurdish to find out areas of similarity and difference between them. To this end data were collected from different English dictionaries and from English idiom dictionaries; while for the Kurdish idiomatic expressions data were collected from Kurdish idiom booklets and sources (See methodology 4.1 &4.2). The findings obtained from the analysis of the data show that despite similarities in the number of the basic colour terms and their general meanings and connotations in the two languages, the symbolic use of the colour terms in idiomatic expressions is, to a great extent, culture and language specific.
Baghdad: Husam for Printing.
Ali, Jalal Mahmood (2001). Idyom le zimani Kurdida. (Idioms in Kurdish Language). vol. 2.
Sulayma:ni: Sardam for Printing and Publishing.
Anderson, Wendy and Ellen Bramwell. (2014). "Metaphorical Spectrum:Surveying Colour
Terms in English", University of Glasgow. In Colour studies: A broad spectrum ed. by
Wendy Anderson, Carole P. Biggam, Carole Hough and Christian Kay. (2014).
Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 140-153.
Berlin, Brent and Paul Kay. (1991). Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution.
Berkeley: University of California Press.
Chapman, Cameron. (2010). "Colour theory for designers Part 1: The meaning of colours".
meaning-of-color/ [Accessed 20/3/2018].
Cherry, Kendra (2018). Reviewed by Steven Gans, 'The Opponent Process Theory of Colour:
Understanding how we see colour vision"
Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com › Psychology › Theories › Cognitive
Collins Coubuild Idiom's Dictionay. (1996). Harper Collins Publishers.
Crone, Robert A. (1999). A History of Colour: The Evolution Theories of Light and Colour.
Kluwer Academic Publishers.
De Bortoli , Mario and Jesús Maroto (2001). "Colours across cultures: Translating
colours in interactive marketing communication"'. Available at:
Douma, M. Curator. (2008). "Colour Art and Mind: Micrconsciousness". In Causes of Colour.
Available at http://www.webexhibits.org/causesofcolor/3.html.
Dunn, Alison, 2014. "The meaning of colour: The cultural and ethnic aspects of colour use".
Foster, Geraldine Ann.( n.d.) 'The language of colour". Available at:
Gage, John. (1999). Colour and Meaning: Art, Science and Symbolism. Berkeley and Los
Angeles: University of California Press.
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von. (1840) Goethe's theory of colour Londn: John Murray
Albemarle Street 1840. Translated from the German with Notes by Charles Lock
Eastlake. (1941). London: William Clower and Sons, Stamford Street.
Hardin, C.L. (2013). "Berlin and Kay Theory". New York:. Syracuse University, Departmenof
Philosophy, in Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology. DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-
27851-8_62-2. Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013.
He, Guimei. (2009). "English and Chinese cultural connotation of color words in
Comparison". Qingdao University of Science and Technology Qingdao
Asian Social Science.5 (7) pp. 160-163. Available at: http://bartos.web.elte.hu/ma/color-
culture-E-C.pdf. [Accessed 20/10/2014]
He, Guimei, (2011). "A comparative study of color metaphors in English and Chines"'. In Theory
and Practice in Language Studies, 1 (12), pp. (1804-1808), Qingdao University of Science
and Technology Qingdao, China. Available at:
Izady, M.R. (2008). 'The National Flag of Kurdistan'. In Encyclopaedia Kurdistanica.
Archived from the original on 1 May 2008. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
Kay, P. and C. McDaniel (1978). 'The Linguistic Significance of the Meaning of the
Basic Color Terms'. In Language, 54, pp. 610-646.
Kleynhans, J. H. ( 2007). 'The use of colour as a tool for propaganda". In
Interim: Interdisciplinary Journal, 6 (1) 46-53. Available at:
Koelbing, H.M., (1988). 'The history of color theories" (Zur Geschichte der Farbenlehre), Klin
Monbl Augenheilkd, 192(2), (176-82), Abstract only, Medizinhistorisches Institut der
Universität Zürich. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3283427
Kurdish Academy of Languages (2016) "Kurdish language"
Kurdish Academy of Language. (2018). "Kurdish Language".
Lucy, J. A. (1996). 'The Scope of Linguistic Relativity: An Analysis and Review of
Empirical Research". In John J. Gumperz and Stephen Levinson (Eds.), Rethinking
Linguistic Relativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 37-69.
Makarevicius, Algirdas, (2014). "Culture and colour" . Available at:
http://alslectures.webs.com/cultureandcolor.htm [Accessed 15/9/2014]
Morton, J.L. (2011). "Color matters" . In Colour Matters Newsletter. Available at:
https://www.colormatters.com. [Accessed 28/2.2017].
National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) Courses, Module 13: Lecture 36
( 2012). "Color and society: Single colour meaning"
file:///E|/color_in_design/lecture36/36_1.htm[8/17/2012 2:30: [Accessed 20/10/2014]
Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 8th edition. (2010) Oxford University Press.
Palmer, F.R. (1981), Semantics (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Pathak , Apeksha. (2012). "Color code: interpretations and perceptions of colors in our
world". QlikView Technical Brief. Available at:
https://community.qlik.com/docs/DOC-3173 [Accessed 2/10/2014]
Philip, Gill., 2011. Colouring meaning: collocations and connotations in figurative language.
[e-book] Amesterdam: John Benjamin Publications.
Regier, Terry and Kay, Paul. (2009). 'Language, thought and colour: Whorf was half right. In
Trends in Cognitive Sciences vol. xxx No. x.
Salim, Jamal Azmi & Mohammad Mehawesh.(2013)."'Color idiomatic expressions in the
translation of Naguib Mahfouz’s novel “The Thief and the Dogs”: A case study" In the
International Journal of English Linguistics, 3 (4) pp. 107-116.Department of English
Language and Translation, Faculty of Arts, Zarqa University, Jordan. Available at:
Saundres, B. (1995). "Disinterring Basic Color Terms: A Study in the Mystique of
Cognitivism". In History of the Human Sciences, 8 (7): 19-38.
Sharaf Fatima. (2005). Atlas Dictionary of English Idioms English-Arabic. Edited by Sara
Rashwan. Atlas for Publishing.
Shareef, Abdul-wahab Kanabi. (2005). Ferhengi Idyom le Zmani Kurdi. (A Dictionary of
dioms in Kurdish Language). Sulaymani: Ministry of Culture.
Swenson, Rivka. (2010). "Optics, Gender, and the Eighteenth- Century Gaze: Looking at Eliza
Haywood's Anti-Pamela". In The Eighteenth Century Journal, Volume 51, No. 1-2, PP27-
4). University of Pennsylvania Press DOI: 10.1353/ecy.2010.0
Wagner, Brain Thomas and Donald Kline. (2002). The History of Colour Vision Science: Bases
of Colour Vision". University of Calgary. Available at:
Wardhaugh, Ronald. (1986). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics.Basil Blakwell Inc.
Zelanski, Paul & Mary Pat Fisher, (1995). Colour design Principles and Problems [e-book},
Colour chapter pp. 227- 250. Wadsworth. Available at:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.