Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Chinese concepts

I've just returned from my first trip to Asia: 10 days in Hong Kong. A fascinating place indeed, and a valuable window into the incredible things going on in China. I hope to blog some of my impressions later, but, for now, just an interesting bit of trivia on the Chinese language.

Apparently many concepts in Chinese are made up by combining antonyms. For example, the concept "business", is represented by combining the two characters for "buy" and "sell" ('How is your buy/sell going?'). The concept "whole" is represented by combining the two characters for "over" and "under" ('You don't know the over and under of the situation'). (For more, see the following website and scroll down to the section "Opposing Words in Chinese")

Apparently the concept of "truth" (and possibly the concept "morality") is represented by combining the two characters for "black" and "white". I don't know enough about the language to comment on the significance of this, but it's certainly amusing to speculate on how a subjectivist epistemology or morality would be expressed in Chinese:

"The black and white of anything is never black and white".


1 Comments:

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