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Politeness in Chinese / Japanese...

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Start your custom "Politeness" project by clicking the button next to your favorite "Politeness" title below...

Quick links to words on this page...

  1. Courtesy / Politeness
  2. The Five Tenets of Confucius
  3. Respect
  4. How can you catch tiger cubs...
  5. Wise Younger Brother
  6. God of Zion / God of Abraham...
  7. Beautiful Woman
  8. Azerbaijan
  9. Art of War: 5 Points of Analysis
10. Asian Pride / Oriental Pride...
11. Beauty / Beautiful / Handsome
12. Move On / Change Way of Thinking
13. New Beginning
14. Rebel / Revolutionary
15. Shit Happens
16. Clear Blue Sky
17. Israel
18. Master / Skilled Worker

Courtesy / Politeness

China lǐ mào
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Courtesy / Politeness

Courtesy is being polite and having good manners. When you speak and act courteously, you give others a feeling of being valued and respected. Greet people pleasantly. Bring courtesy home. Your family needs it most of all. Courtesy helps life to go smoothly.

If you put the words "fēi cháng bù" in front of this, it is like adding "very much not". It's a great insult in China, as nobody wants to be called "extremely discourteous" or "very much impolite".

See Also...  Kindness | Respect

The Five Tenets of Confucius

The Five Cardinal Rules / Virtues of Confucius
China rén yì lǐ zhì xìn
Japan jin gi rei tomo nobu
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The Five Tenets of Confucius

These are the core of Confucius philosophy. Simply stated they are:
benevolence / charity
justice / rectitude
courtesy / politeness / tact
wisdom / knowledge
fidelity / trust / sincerity

Many of these concepts can be found in various religious teachings. Though it should be clearly understood that Confucianism is not a religion, but should instead be considered a moral code for a proper and civilized society.

This title is also labeled, "5 Confucian virtues".

礼 If you order this from the Japanese calligrapher, expect the middle Kanji to be written in a more simple form (as seen to the right). This can also be romanized as "jin gi rei satoshi shin" in Japanese. Not all Japanese will recognize this as Confucian tenets, but they will know all the meanings of the characters.

See Also...  Confucius Teachings | Ethics

Respect (Japanese / Simplified version)

Can also be a sign of gratitude
Japan rei
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We show respect by speaking and acting with courtesy. We treat others with dignity and honor the rules of our family, school and nation. Respect yourself, and others will respect you.

This is also one of the five tenets of Confucius.

This character can also be translated as propriety, good manners, politeness, rite, worship or an expression of gratitude.

Chinese RespectPlease note that Japanese use a simplified version of the character for respect - it also happens to be the same simplification used in mainland China. Click on the character to the right if you want the Traditional Chinese version.

This is also a virtue of the Samurai Warrior
See our page with just Code of the Samurai / Bushido here

See Also...  Confucius

How can you catch tiger cubs
without entering the lair of the tiger?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained
China bú rù hǔ xué yān dé hǔ zǐ
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How can you catch tiger cubs<br>without entering the lair of the tiger?

While perhaps no longer politically correct, this Chinese proverb is a reminder that you must take risks if you want reward.

This is similar to the English proverb, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained".

The literal word order of the Chinese is, "If (you) don't enter the tiger's lair/cave, how can (you) get/obtain tiger cubs?".

Wise Younger Brother

China xián dì
Japan ken tei
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Wise Younger Brother

This is an honorific title for a little brother.

This can be translated as: worthy little brother; wise younger brother. This can also be a polite reference to another's younger brother, or to your junior or subordinate.

God of Zion / God of Abraham
The Judeo-Christian God

China shàng dì
Japan joutei
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God of Zion / God of Abraham<br>The Judeo-Christian God

This is how Chinese Christians and Jews refer to God. Yes, there are Chinese Jews whose ancestry dates back to Jewish traders on the silk road. Most have left China for I presume, Israel now. There are also plenty of Christians in China of both the Protestant and Catholic variety. However, the churches are basically run by the government, and the Chinese Catholic church does not recognize the Pope.

Oddly, in my experience, I found the Chinese Protestant church to be much less political compared to Baptist and other Protestant churches that I have attended in America.

This is also the typically-used title for God in Japanese.
However, while you may find this term in old Korean dictionaries, it is an obscure, and rarely-used title for God in modern Korean.

See Also...  Christianity | Jesus Christ

Beautiful Woman

China měi lì de nǚ rén
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Beautiful Woman

This is the best and most polite way to express "beautiful woman" in Chinese.

Note: Some people may like the simple 2-character 美女 way to express this, but there are some bad connotations with that, so better to stay with this longer and more respectful title.

See Also...  Beautiful Girl | Beauty


China ā sài bài jiāng
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This is the Chinese name for the country of Azerbaijan.

Note: Technically in Asia, but politically European.

See Also...  Asia | Europe

Art of War: 5 Points of Analysis

China dào tiān dì jiàng fǎ
Japan dou ten chi shou hou
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Art of War: 5 Points of Analysis

The first chapter of Sun Tzu's Art of War lists five key points to analyzing your situation.

It reads like a 5-part military proverb. Sun Tzu says that to sharpen your skills, you must plan. To plan well, you must know your situation. Therefore, you must consider and discuss the following:

1. Philosophy and Politics: Make sure your way or your policy is agreeable among all of your troops (and the citizens of your kingdom as well). For when your soldiers believe in you and your way, they will follow you to their deaths without hesitation, and will not question your orders.

2. Heaven/Sky: Consider climate / weather. This can also mean to consider whether God is smiling on you. In the modern military, this could be waiting for clear skies so that you can have air support for an amphibious landing.

3. Ground/Earth: Consider the terrain in which the battle will take place. This includes analyzing defensible positions, exit routes, and using varying elevation to your advantage. When you plan an ambush, you must know your terrain, and the best location from which to stage that ambush. This knowledge will also help you avoid being ambushed, as you will know where the likely places in which to expect an ambush from your enemy.

4. Leadership: This applies to you as the general, and also to your lieutenants. A leader should be smart and be able to develop good strategies. Leaders should keep their word, and if they break a promise, they should punish themselves as harshly as they would punish subordinates. Leaders should be benevolent to their troops, with almost a fatherly love for them. Leaders must have the ability to make brave and fast decisions. Leaders must have steadfast principles.

5. [Military] Methods: This can also mean laws, rules, principles, model, or system. You must have an efficient organization in place to manage both your troops and supplies. In the modern military, this would be a combination of how your unit is organized, and your SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).

Notes: This is a simplistic translation and explanation. Much more is suggested in the actual text of the Art of War (Bing Fa). It would take a lot of study to master all of these aspects. In fact, these five characters can be compared to the modern military acronyms such as BAMCIS or SMEAC.

CJK notes: I have included the Japanese and Korean pronunciations, but in Chinese, Korean and Japanese, this does not make a typical phrase (with subject, verb and object) it is a list that only someone familiar with Sun Tzu's writings would understand.

Asian Pride / Oriental Pride
Asian Pryde / AZN Pryde

China dōng fāng zì zūn
HK dung fong chi juen
Japan tou hou zi son
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Asian Pride / Oriental Pride<br>Asian Pryde / AZN Pryde

This is the most universal way to write "Asian Pride".

We worked on this one for a long time. The effort involved both Chinese and Japanese translators and lengthy discussions. If you have been searching for this term, there is a reason that it's hard to find the way to write "Asian Pride" in Chinese and Japanese - it's because of the inherent difficulties in figuring out a universal combination of characters that can be read in all languages that use forms of Chinese characters.

This final solution that you see to the left creates a reasonable title in Chinese, and an exotic (perhaps unusual) title in Japanese (This could be read as "Eastern Self-Respect" in Japanese").
Although not as natural, it does have the same meaning in Korean Hanja and the older-generation of Vietnamese people will be able to read it too.

The first two characters literally mean "Oriental" and the second two mean "pride", "self-esteem", or "self-respect" (we chose the most non-arrogant way to say "pride"). If you have "Asian Pride" (sometimes spelled Asian Pryde) these are the characters for you.

Note: For those of you that wonder, there is nothing technically wrong with the word "Oriental". It is the most correct word, and any bad meanings were created by so-called "Asian Americans" and Caucasians in the United States. To say "Asian" would not completely correct to the intended meaning, since that would include people from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, India, and portions of Russia.

For further proof, if you were of East Asian ancestry and born in England, you would be known as a "British Oriental" (The "Oriental stigma" is basically an American creation and therefore applies mostly to the American English language - where they get a bit overzealous with political correctness).

Further, since the Chinese and Japanese word for Oriental is not English, it can not be construed having ill-meaning. One trip to China or Japan, and you will find many things titled with these two characters such as malls, buildings, and business names. These places also use "Oriental" as their English title (much as we do, since our Chinese business name starts with these same two characters).

In short, the first two character have the meaning that Americans attach to "Asian" but is more technically correct.

Beauty / Beautiful / Handsome

China měi
Japan bi
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Beauty / Beautiful / Handsome

This word is often used to describe the beauty of a woman. However, when applied to a man, it can mean handsome. It's also the first character in the word for "beauty salon" which you will see all over China and Japan.

This can be used as the given name for a girl (spell it or say it as "Mei" or "May").

For a bit of trivia: The title for the "USA" in Chinese is "Mei Guo" which literally means "Beautiful Country". This name was bestowed at a time before Chairman Mao came to power and decided that China didn't like the USA anymore (even though we fought together against the Japanese in WWII). But these days, Chinese people love Americans (but have distaste for American politics and policy). But I digress...

This is also how "Beautiful" is written in Japanese Kanji and Korean Hanja. This character can also mean: very satisfactory; good; to be pleased with oneself; abbreviation for the USA; fine; handsome; admirable; madhura; sweet; pleasant.

See Also...  Beautiful Woman | Beautiful Girl

Move On / Change Way of Thinking

Japan norikaeru
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Move On / Change Way of Thinking

This is the Japanese way to say, "move on". This can also be translated as, "to change one's mind", "to change methods", "to change one's way of thinking". For instance, if you changed your love interest, or political ideology, you might describe the act of that change with this title.

Colloquially in Japan, this is also used to describe the act of transferring trains or to change from one bus or train to another.

New Beginning

China yī shǐ
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New Beginning

This is a short version of "new beginning" or simply "beginning" in Chinese characters.

You can also translated this as "from this moment on", "starting now" or "henceforth".

In day-to-day speech, this word can apply to starting new job, beginning a new career, entering a new chapter of your life, or taking a new position (in politics, scholarship, etc).

Rebel / Revolutionary

China gé mìng zhě
Japan kaku mei sha
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This is a noun, meaning a rebel or revolutionary in Chinese (rarely-used in Japanese Kanji).

The first two characters mean "revolution" (specifically a political revolution or revolt).
The third character means "person".

Shit Happens

China shì shì nán liào
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Shit Happens

This is a polite Chinese version of, "shit happens". This phrase just suggests that things happen (for no reason, and for which we have no control).

The first two characters mean: the affairs of life; things of the world; worldly affairs; ways of the world.

The third character means: disaster; distress; problem; difficulty; difficult; hardships; troubles; defect.

The last character in this context means: to expect; to anticipate; to guess.

If you put this back together, you have something like, "In life, troubles (should be) expected".

Clear Blue Sky

China qīng tiān
Japan seiten
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Clear Blue Sky

This means clear sky, and/or blue sky in Chinese and Japanese Kanji.

Sometimes this term is used in Chinese to refer to a upright and honorable official or politician (a very rare thing).

In Japanese, this can also be the name Harutaka.


China yǐ sè liè
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This is the Chinese name for the country of Israel. While geographically located in Asia, Israel tends to politically be closer to Europe.

See Also...  Palestine | Asia | Europe

Master / Skilled Worker

Secondary version of Sifu
China shī fu
HK si fu
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Master / Skilled Worker

This is a tricky title. People say "sifu" for master all the time in the context of martial arts. But there are two sifu titles floating around. This one can simply mean "skilled worker".

Historically, this term has been used for a lot of things, such as, "The tutor of a king or emperor". But now it's more commonly used to mean, master worker, or qualified worker.

Currently, within the field of skilled labor, a master (shifu) is higher than a journeyman, and is considered to be one worthy to teach others.

Note: In the 1970's and 1980's this term was used as a common form of polite address between people. You might say, "master, do you know were Tian'anmen Square is?" to just a person on the street at that time. This usage has almost passed, however, for some reason, people still often refer to taxi cab drivers as "master" in China (though I think/hope this is fading).

In Mandarin Chinese, this is pronounced like like "Sure Foo", and in Cantonese like, "See Foo".

The second character is the difference between this sifu and the other. In this case, the second character by itself means tutor, instructor, or teacher.

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A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

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A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.

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The following table is only helpful for those studying Chinese (or Japanese), and perhaps helps search engines to find this page when someone enters Romanized Chinese or Japanese

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Courtesy / Politeness 禮貌
lǐ mào / li3 mao4 / li mao / limao
The Five Tenets of Confucius 仁義禮智信
jin gi rei tomo nobu
rén yì lǐ zhì xìn
ren2 yi4 li3 zhi4 xin4
ren yi li zhi xin
jen i li chih hsin
Respect (Japanese / Simplified version)
reilǐ / li3 / li
How can you catch tiger cubs
without entering the lair of the tiger?
不入虎穴焉得虎子bú rù hǔ xué yān dé hǔ zǐ
bu2 ru4 hu3 xue2 yan1 de2 hu3 zi3
bu ru hu xue yan de hu zi
pu ju hu hsüeh yen te hu tzu
Wise Younger Brother 賢弟
ken tei / kenteixián dì / xian2 di4 / xian di / xiandi hsien ti / hsienti
God of Zion / God of Abraham / The Judeo-Christian God 上帝joutei / joteishàng dì / shang4 di4 / shang di / shangdi shang ti / shangti
Beautiful Woman 美麗的女人
měi lì de nǚ rén
mei3 li4 de nv3 ren2
mei li de nv ren
mei li te nü jen
Azerbaijan 阿塞拜疆ā sài bài jiāng
a1 sai4 bai4 jiang1
a sai bai jiang
a sai pai chiang
Art of War: 5 Points of Analysis 道天地將法
dou ten chi shou hou
do ten chi sho ho
dào tiān dì jiàng fǎ
dao4 tian1 di4 jiang4 fa3
dao tian di jiang fa
tao t`ien ti chiang fa
tao tien ti chiang fa
Asian Pride / Oriental Pride / Asian Pryde / AZN Pryde 東方自尊
tou hou zi son
to ho zi son
dōng fāng zì zūn
dong1 fang1 zi4 zun1
dong fang zi zun
tung fang tzu tsun
Beauty / Beautiful / Handsome biměi / mei3 / mei
Move On / Change Way of Thinking 乗り換えるnorikaeru
New Beginning 伊始yī shǐ / yi1 shi3 / yi shi / yishi i shih / ishih
Rebel / Revolutionary 革命者kaku mei sha
gé mìng zhě
ge2 ming4 zhe3
ge ming zhe
ko ming che
Shit Happens 世事難料
shì shì nán liào
shi4 shi4 nan2 liao4
shi shi nan liao
shih shih nan liao
Clear Blue Sky 青天seitenqīng tiān
qing1 tian1
qing tian
ch`ing t`ien
ching tien
Israel 以色列yǐ sè liè
yi3 se4 lie4
yi se lie
i se lieh
Master / Skilled Worker 師傅
shī fu / shi1 fu / shi fu / shifu shih fu / shihfu

In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line. In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.

Some people may refer to this entry as Politeness Kanji, Politeness Characters, Politeness in Mandarin Chinese, Politeness Characters, Politeness in Chinese Writing, Politeness in Japanese Writing, Politeness in Asian Writing, Politeness Ideograms, Chinese Politeness symbols, Politeness Hieroglyphics, Politeness Glyphs, Politeness in Chinese Letters, Politeness Hanzi, Politeness in Japanese Kanji, Politeness Pictograms, Politeness in the Chinese Written-Language, or Politeness in the Japanese Written-Language.

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