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In some languages, including old Chinese, Thai, old Japanese, and Vietnamese, the same word can mean either blue or green. The Chinese character 青 (pronounced qīng in Mandarin, ao in Japanese, and thanh in Sino-Vietnamese) has a meaning that covers both blue and green; blue and green are traditionally considered shades of "青". In more contemporary terms, they are 藍 (lán, in Mandarin) and 綠 (lǜ, in Mandarin) respectively. Japanese also has two terms that refer specifically to the color green, 緑 (midori, which is derived from the classical Japanese descriptive verb midoru "to be in leaf, to flourish" in reference to trees) and グリーン (guriin, which is derived from the English word "green"). However, in Japan, although the traffic lights have the same colors as other countries have, the green light is described using the same word as for blue, aoi, because green is considered a shade of aoi; similarly, green variants of certain fruits and vegetables such as green apples, green shiso (as opposed to red apples and red shiso) will be described with the word aoi. Vietnamese uses a single word for both blue and green, xanh, with variants such as xanh da trời (azure, lit. "sky blue"), lam (blue), and lục (green; also xanh lá cây, lit. "leaf green").

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