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In one of 宮沢賢治's stories, the following sentence appears:

そのとき風がどうと吹いて来て教室のガラス戸はみんながたがた鳴り、
学校のうしろの山の萱や栗の木はみんな変に青じろくなってゆれ、
教室のなかのこどもはなんだかにやっとわらってすこしうごいたようでした

My question is as to what the meaning of 青じろく (青白く) is here.

The technical definition of this word seems to be "bluish white" or "pale", however in context I don't understand why the trees "paled strangely".

Are the trees "paling" because their leaves are turning over due to the wind? Or for some other reason?

Or would "darken" be a closer English word to express this usage?

  • Yes, I think you are right. If you want to get credit feel free to register this as an answer. – Locksleyu Oct 27 '16 at 14:16
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It seems to me like a rhetorical figure more than anything. I can't say anything for a certainty, but 「青白い」 calls to my mind such ideas as "ghastly", "spooky", "eerie", so it could be alluding to the (suspected) true identity of 高田三郎 the new transfer kid, which is, as Wikipedia puts it, 「地元で伝説となっている風の神様の子。神というよりも悪霊に近い存在。」

(I haven't read the novel, by the way. So the entirety of my knowledge of the story consists almost wholly of the quote and what's written on the Wikipedia article. Yay!)

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  • Thanks for the answer, especially your nuance of "spooky", etc. Now I am thinking "discolored" might be a better translation here. By the way, I know you haven't read it, but the new transfer kid already has appeared by this point in the story. – Locksleyu Oct 27 '16 at 22:47
  • Oh, sorry for the confusion! I'll edit out that part. – goldbrick Oct 28 '16 at 4:46
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Miyazawa is not above strange descriptions. But here, it sounds like he's describing the apparent change in the color of leaves caused by the wind blowing and seeing the underside of the leaves. And, while the dictionary translates 青じろく as "bluish white", keep in mind that あお has a wide range of meaning covering "pale", "green", and "blue". I might translate it as "strangely turning a pale green as they rustled"

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