Colourful language

Article published on Sept. 14, 2005
Article published on Sept. 14, 2005

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Europeans really go for Technicolour language. The French like la vie en rose (where life is rosy) but, like the Brits, can sometimes get worked up and ‘see red’. In Spain and Italy blue is the colour of a prince charming (el principe azul), yet represents fright for the French, where you are not ‘white’ but ‘blue’ with fear. A forced laugh is a ‘yellow’ one for an offended or upset Frenchman whilst yellow smacks more of jealousy for a German who can be gelb vor neid. Green is synonymous with envy in perfidious Albion, with rage for Italians (who are verde della rabia) and with lecherous old men (el viejo verde) on the Iberian Peninsula. Things become even more complicated when Europeans get onto that oh-so universal of themes: drinking. Drunkenness is either ‘grey’ or ‘black’ for the French depending on how far gone they are. Across the Rhine you may find a blau sein German, ‘blue’ with drink, or, in Madrid, a ‘purple’ (morado) inebriated Spaniard. A veritable boozy rainbow arches across Europe…