Saturday, September 05, 2020


The Spanish for "verdigris" is cardenillo. I have had a hard time learning this, because cardenillo seems to me like it should mean some shade of red: I guess I have "cardinal" and "carnation" and "carmine" in mind. Pretty much the opposite of verdigris.

The Spanish derives from the Latin carduus, thistle, which arrives as the sturdy Spanish cardo, munched by good Spanish donkeys in a thousand stories Which seems at first only to make matters worse, because thistles are resolutely purple. Cárdeno means purplish or violet. What does that have to do with the green of a green penny? 

Verdigris is actually as blue as it is green: sometimes more blue than green. If you google "blue thistle" you will find pictures of flowers that are not too far from the color of oxidized bronze. Maybe that's the way of it.

But there's still the odd matter of the diminutive. The "bronze disease" is the "purple-itty"? I'm not  satisfied. I still can't make cardenillo feel like it should mean "verdigris," even with blue thistles dancing in my head: there's a mystery here.

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