Friday, May 22, 2009

Fan Jinghua: Word Study

   Word Study
Chinese glamour has a radical of ghost
And enamoured is a woman raising her brow
Your glamour is glossy like glass, glittering
Crystal coffin over amour, tinkling but untouchable
How glamorous is that bewitching creature
And charming the grinning fairy, with chic enamel arms
That stretch out skittishly, white as a choice vase of china
-- We are using the same words, but we speak
Two different languages, and do you know my compliments?
               Oct. 2005

您的魅力是玻璃质的 外壳玲玲作响

  In Chinese, 魅力 (glamour) literally means the power (力) of a ghostly creature (魅 which contains the radical of ghost 鬼 and the element of sound未). It is interesting to note that in English the sound element of gl can be found in such words as glossy, glass, glittering which used to explain the word glamour. Chinese 媚 consists two part of a woman 女 and the eyebrow 眉, which etymologically means to show love by eyes and later generally refers to the power to enamor.
  汉语中的魅用英文的glamour来解释,该词相当于我们汉语的光彩照人,尤以外表的亮丽为主要内涵,就英文字面上硬拆glamour则是gl和amour (隐秘恋情),gl的声音有似汉语中的金石之音,因此解释时用glossy (有光泽的)、glass (玻璃)、glittering (闪烁的)和tinkling (玉石的玲玲声)。魅的鬼魅性用bewitching (作祟人的、令人迷的) 这个词,而bewitching由witch (巫婆) 为词根。媚,先是说汉字是女子动眉毛,用enamoured (迷恋的,也是以amour为词根) 来解释,因为汉字媚的本义是以目媚人示爱,后面则主要强调其charm (魔力)。英文charm字面上拆为ch和arm (手臂),ch的声音用了chic (别致的、不落俗套的)、choice (精选的)和china (瓷器)三个词。


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Jenny Enochsson said...

Hi Jinghua,

Interesting and elegant indeed!

I have never thought of the term glamour as synnonymous with a ghost's power before. :) Yet, now that you mention it, is seems logical.



Jinghua FAN 得一忘二 said...

Jenny, Glamour in English may not be associated with ghost, but charm or enchantment might be, and bewitching is obvious. We actually have a phrase of "glamour" in Chinese, which literally means "light and color shine on others." This is more akin to the gl sound-association, maybe.

Jenny Enochsson said...

I think that glamour in English (and Swedish) is associated with the attraction of wealth and success, mainly. A materialistic and somewhat artificial attribute used in fashion mostly. Yes, charm and enchantment as well.

However, I liked the Chinese meaning of the word. It bring new dimensions to the term.