Saturday, March 27, 2010

Phebe Gray tells me some intersting things about the relationship between the Chinese words "crisis" and "opportunity".....

She writes from Cleveland, Tennessee, where she teaches at Lee University:

"Crisis is made up of two Chinese characters, Wei and Ji; Wei means danger; Ji means opportunity; many westerners use this phrase as an example to illustrate that in the midst of a crisis, there is always an element of opportunity. Are you familiar with Taoism? This is also one of the fundamental concepts in Taoism.

Crisis doesn't just mean opportunity; it is a crisis indeed, with both elements of danger AND elements of opportunity; Ji, on the other hand, also means mechanism. In the midst of crisis, one needs to understand how the mechanism of the dangerous situation works, and if they can operate the mechanism, they will be able to solve the crisis; Mechanism is the root meaning of Ji, opportunity is the derived meaning of Ji; therefore, opportunity is all relavent; to one who understands how to operate the mechanism, it is opportunity; to those who don't understand the way of the mechanism, the crisis is still a crisis.

Does this make sense?

I feel so fortunate to be of Chinese heritage and having learned Chinese and fell in love with classic Chinese before the critical period (another linguistic hypothesis about language acquisition which argues that it is easier to learn a language before puberty); I think Chinese language is not only a treasure for Chinese civilization, but also it is a treasure to humanity. Glad it is becoming more and more a popular foreign language in the west. Hope many people will start to study Chinese, and all brilliant minds can work together, like iron sharpening iron, to understand Chinese language in this century and put the puzzle together for the human story,

Thanks for asking and thanks allowing me to share with you."

[NOTE: Dr Gray told this blog that she may publish this one day in a book form.She has lots of ideas related to our perception about the world, philosophy, history, humanity, even science; all from a Chinese linguistic perspective. Dr Gray did her PHD work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxvile, graduating in 1997 with a
Ph.D. in Foreign Language Education.]

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