A friend asked on Facebook: What is the colour Turquoise in Chinese? Well, Google translated Turquoise as “綠松石”, so is “松石綠” any good? Here is what I wrote in my comment with some slight rewording,
“Hmm, my thinking is if we use a name your readers don’t know or have no reference, then how useful is it? For me, I’ve heard of 孔雀綠 but I have no idea nor reference of 松石綠.
I guess it really depends on the target readers. If they are fashion designers or are in the printing business, using the English word “Turquoise” in the Chinese text may be better.
Of course, if I can be geeky and scientific, may I answer with Pantone 15-5519 which happens to be colour of the year for 2010!” (note: see below for my additional surprising “*update*“!)
I personally won’t translate any new-ish colour names and would simply use its English names in my Chinese text because the original English names will at least, hopefully, mean something for the experts in the fashion or colour industry.
Now, if I were a fashion designer creating a new line of fashion with a brand new colour and trying to promote it in China, may be I will spend time in finding a poetic sounding name for the colour. But then again, the original English name be better for promotional purpose, and for sure in business correspondence.
Ultimately, I am practical and realize the need for precision sometimes so I may end up asking for “Turquoise“, the cool 2010 Colour of the Year, by its proper name Pantone 15-5519! Sometimes, the better translation is no translation at all.
Let me make an exception. If you are writing for leading fashion magazines, or working for an industrial leading influential organization, then may be it is your job to lead and define new colour names. In that case, I hope you are poetic & smart and don’t give us a lazy phonetic translation because it is absolutely USELESS! It is as horrible and laughable as people who phonetically translate “廁所” to English! (“廁所” is washroom/toilet)
*Update*: After writing the above, I decided to look up Pantone’s Chinese page “Pantone 2010年度的代表色: PANTONER 15-5519 松石绿 Turquoise”. It actually translated “Turquoise” aka Pantone 15-5519 as “松石綠”! Interesting. So this is the colour standard people using and defining it! So I unknowingly stumbled upon the logic, reasoning and process behind all these colours thing! :)
Note that I still don’t have a colour image of “松石綠” based on its name. But via the definition surrounding Pantone 15-5519, I’ve got everything I will probably ever need to know about it.
P.S. Translation is suppose to help understanding, if your translation actually confuses people, then may be you should leave it alone?