The vocabulary of a particular language consists of not only words but also of phraseological units. The investigations made on English phraseological units began not long ago. Only in 20th century Phraseology emerged as a science, but the problems in connection with the status of phraseology, the founder of this discipline and other problems have not found the solution . The linguists collect various words, word-groups and collocations, which are unique from the perspective of their origin, style, usage or some other features. As we know all these units are defined as «phraseological units» or «idioms», but these word groups still have not been described as a specific class of linguistic units. Phraseological units exist in the language as ready-made expressions and can be found in special dictionaries. The phraseological units include several words which together express a single notion.
Through phraseological units we can make our speech brighter and expressive. That is why the writers and journalists employ phraseologies in their works as unique objects of linguistics.
In this article I want to give special attention to idioms or expressions related to colors, as they are a few in number and carry special meanings. It is reasonable to collect them and present in tables to compare their meanings.
Semantic meaning of colors
Colors exist everywhere in our world and play an important role in our life.
We associate colors with a certain connotations and meanings, which is different in different cultures.
In Kazakhstan linguistics the notion of the color is mainly investigated by Ph.N. Dauletov, A.T.Kaydarov, D.A. Kazhygaliyeva whose works are devoted to the analysis of ethno-linguistic, linguistic culturological peculiarities of color namings. One of the latest researches of Kazakhstan linguists in a field of color naming is the research of many years by Sh.K.Zharkynbekova named as “Color concepts in Kazakh and Russian linguistic cultures” .
Significance of color semantics as culture component has complicated and various sacral system of senses, interpretations for every nation and becomes embodiment of definite cultural values. Consequently, color namings can be represented as linguistic cultural phenomenon .
Linguists, ethno linguists came to the single conclusion that color namings have some universal similarities. E.M.Vereshagin, V.G. Kostomarova give very important opinion in their popular work devoted to linguistic-cultural theory of word which states that figurative expressions, idioms and proverbs are used for certain colors and its various shades. They can represent information about past social-historical, emotional-mental state of each nation .
Generally, the black color are associated with sadness. For example, a black day means “a day when something sad, unpleasant, disastrous happens to someone. In addition, the black color related to illegibility, violation of laws: black market, black economy, and blackmail. Due to this color we can describe personal feelings like: be in a black humor/mood or give somebody a black look, which is used to represent anger.
A.N. Kononov being the first who investigated meanings of color namings in Turkic languages distinguished 20 different meanings of black color as an adjective. The black color means not only darkness, piercing cold, dense, large, strong, fierce, mass, ordinariness, uncertainty, but also hardship, difficult anxiety, poverty. Some scholars consider names related to black color dividing them on 6 groups: 1) evil; 2) crime, cruelty; 3) priority; 4) holiness, kindness; 5) simplicity; 6) grief and despondency .
The white color is supposed to be the opposite of the black, which mostly reveals something good. Even so, this color may have connection with negative association like lies, witches, magicians: white lie, a white witch, white magic. But these word combinations do not convey negative meaning. However. there are a few in number phraseological units with negative meaning for example show the white feathers. Some English expressions involving the white color expresses fear, anger and are used when someone is shocked or ill.
Some English expressions involving the white color are a white elephant - something expensive but useless and unwanted, a white Christmas – a Christmas when it snows, or white nights.
It is a calming, refreshing color that symbolizes nature.
he/she has green fingers –skilled as a gardener.
Apart from this, green is employed in expressing emotions, mostly to describe someone who is envious - green with envy, jealousy – the green-eyed monster (humorous) from Shakespeare’s play Othello.
The color red is associated with passion, and love, heat, energy and blood, and emotions that stir the blood, including anger (a red rag to a bull, see red), embarrassment (as red as a beetroot, a red face). Fire can be also strongly connected with red color.
Red color is also associated with lust, passion, love, and having a great time as well (paint the town red, a red letter day). Red is also used when you do not have enough money (in the red, not have a red cent), or when it is about a special welcome (the red carpet).
The color grey in the phraseological units suggest atmosphere, which are gloomy, dark, and immoral. Grey area – it refers to a situation where the rules are not clear and it is difficult or impossible to say what is right or not. Grey eminence – is employed to describe things that are invisible, even so has a great power and influences in making decisions.
Yellow is a type of color that attracts attention and is considered to be positive color. Natural components have direct connection, like sun and the flowers. However, there are idioms with negative concept like irritating. A yellow streak – has a meaning of cowardice.
Yellow color can indicate human`s intelligence, satisfaction, restraint. In contrast, it is connected with grief, melancholy and despondency as well. Emotions like jealousy, envy, and hate are also expressed by this color
This color may indicate various aspects as the meaning varied among cultures. In our culture, blue color represents the sky, air, cold and the spiritual emotions. The phraseological units like out of the blue, out of the clear blue sky, a bolt out of the blue, describe things that happened unexpectedly, which occurs suddenly. Another example is feel blue means to be in a bad mood.
In Kazakh culture, blue color also denote calmness and unity, such things like prosperity. In most cultures, blue has an equivalent to the word creator, maker. In this way, this color means strength, victory, high spirit.
Blue – name of people, space, everlasting universe, which contain stars, constellations, planets, and galaxy. Blue – ancient Turkic kosmonim. Blue color often occurs in national ornaments, minarets’ cupolas of both Turkic and Kazakh people which witnesses that blue color has a special symbolic meaning .
A. Margulan explains the symbolic values of all colors: blue color – it is a symbol of sky and cleanness; red- it is a symbol of fire and sun; white – it is a symbol of happiness, gladness, truth; yellow color – it is a symbol of mind; black – it is a symbol of land; but green – it is a symbol of spring and youth. Every folk have the concepts about colors. For example, in our people a white color symbolizes by gladness, prosperity, honesty; but black color symbolizes by contrary, grief, cruelty, misery .
Phraseological units are common unit in the language system. We have investigated the semantic peculiarities of phraseological units denoting color in the English language. Set expressions denoting colors are very unique and each color may denote different meanings. Frequently used colors in phraseological units are: red, blue, white, black.
Sh.K. Zharkynbekova, “Color-consciousness-mentality.
L. Bayramova, “Social-linguistic nomination with color lexems. Word. Text. Time. New means of linguistic nomination in new Europe”// Materials of VII intern. scient. confer/edited by M. Alekseyenko, М.Kuchinska-Shetsin, 2004, 478 p.
E.M. Vershagin, V.G.Kostomarov, “Linguistic cultural theory of the word”. M: Russkiyyazik publishing house, 1980, 320 p.
G.K. Kortobayeva, “Kazakh onomapoetry: satirical humorous names of personages. Candidate’s dissertation abstract. Almaty, 2007, 30 p.
A. Kononov, “On semantics of the words “white” and “black” in Turkic geographical terminology” proceedings of Science Academy, Tajikistan SSR, common sciences department. Issue V, 1954, pp. 81-86; Semantics of color naming in Turkic languages. // Turkic collected works, M.,1975, pp.145-153.
A. Margulan, “Kazakh folk applied art”,v.1 Almaty, 1982.256 p.