When I use Google Translate to translate from Russian to Japanese, I get the same Japanese word for two different colours of the rainbow.

💙 ➡️ голубой ➡️ 青い ➡️ blue

🔵 ➡️ синий ➡️ 青い ➡️ blue

These are not the same colour! When I translate from English to Japanese, I get completely different words.

💙 ➡️ light blue ➡️ 水色 ➡️ светло-синий (lit. light-navy-blue)

🔵 ➡️ dark blue ➡️ 濃紺 ➡️ тёмно-синий (lit. dark-navy-blue)

These are two shades of the same colour! What confuses the crap out of me is that the Russian terms given here are both light and dark shades of the same colour we call navy in English...but I'm looking for the true/separate "baby blue" colour in Japanese.

Are 水色 and 濃紺 the words I'm looking for? Are these the words a Japanese person would use to describe the two "blue" colours in the rainbow?

In trying to answer this question, I became even more confused because, in the English "ROYGBIV" mnemonic, the three final colours are "blue, indigo, violet" but in the Russian "КОЖЗГСФ" the three final colours are "baby blue, navy blue, purple" (though the later is some sort of cognate with "violet," it seems). It's like we're in different parallel universes.

I'm fairly certain that navy blue is by no stretch of imagination indigo. Likewise, violet and purple are two totally different colours.

I don't know the Japanese mnemonic for the colors of the rainbow, but things are weird here too. Japanese appears to use 青い for blue and 群青 for violet, so in this sense the Japanese rainbow is closer to the English one. But why not 紫 for the final colour?

Please help! 🌈

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    When you say "when I translate..." what are you referring to, something like google translate? – Leebo Jan 13 at 9:03
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    It's also worth noting that since rainbows aren't actually literally segmented into discrete color bands, there have been many ways of categorizing the colors through history and across different cultures. – Leebo Jan 13 at 9:10
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    According to this highly authoritative page: nikon.co.jp/sp/kids/sky the last colour is 紫. It gives 赤・オレンジ・黄・緑・青・藍(あい)・紫(むらさき) – user3856370 Jan 13 at 10:35
  • @Leebo Yes, I am. This is part of my question (why common translation tools "reduce" translations like this—if you will). As for the colour bands, I'm fascinated precisely with the same cultural variations you mention, and it feels that no one cares about the baby blue/navy blue distinction I'm trying to ask about...or why, while all three languages have the same general set of colours, the rainbow turns out slightly different. – mig81 Jan 13 at 11:57
  • @user3856370 I can't tell whether you're being sarcastic about the source being authoritative, but I like the link you've provided very much. Mind posting this as an answer so I can mark it as accepted? I believe the 青/藍 distinction answers my question (i.e. no baby blue, just indigo) and the 紫 bit puts all my existential questions to rest. :) – mig81 Jan 13 at 12:03

Posted as an answer as requested (and yes the 'highly authoritative' was sacarstic).

According to this highly authoritative page the last colour is 紫. It gives 赤・オレンジ・黄・緑・青・藍(あい)・紫(むらさき)

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    +1. (I really like the source). オレンジ is オレンジ probably because the page is meant for children: more often (and more traditionally) the colour is, when written, referred to as 橙 (だいだい). – Yosh Jan 13 at 13:18

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