This is the second editions of Popular Chinese Expressions. The first edition published in 2000 and reprinted in 2001 and again in 2004, was surprisingly well received.
What s “face”?
Its is multifaceted. The concept of “face” is a human sense perception related to social psychology, it is a human value from a historical perspective, a human custom with formal and informal rituals from the view of anthropology, and a human testimonial as viewed through its expression in language.
“Face” has been a subject of research for many years among Chinese. Foreigners have worked extensively toward understanding it, since “face” is an essential condition to an unhindered cultural exchange between East and West.
Of course, there have been many books about this topic, but this book is the first to analyze “face” from the perspective of language. Since language is the root and origin of human “face”, we sought to create something distinct from those books that only describe “face” from the view of human consciousness and psychology. We think the concept of “face” has become a cultural “genetic factor” in out country, especially among those of Han ancestry. Everyone is captured within a web of connections concerning their “face” before they are even born. To reformat our spoken language is the best way to cure this predicament.
If you want to learn the Chinese language and understand Chinese society, you have to first, understand the “face problem”, because “face” is the nucleus of Chinese cultural psychology and the key survival in Chinese society.
We classified all the phrases into four categories: saving your own face, giving other people face, failing to retain your own face, and denying other people face. Under each category, we further divided the topics into three subtitles: stronger than others, equal to others and weaker to others. The classification is not perfect; since many phrases can be used under more than one title we put them under what we believe was the most suitable one. We believe the reader can use these phrases with some flexibility after understanding them. Each phrase is alphabet-ordered as 1, 1.1, 1.1.1 …under the subtitles.
Each phrase is analyzed from two angles: language sequences and language contexts. Language sequence includes how this phrase was used in ancient communication, in contemporary written usage, contemporary oral language and all comparable phrases. Language context is given through conversations providing all the specific circumstances of use, and then providing explanatory notes explaining the Chinese cultural background, motivations, and gains and losses. The content of the book includes phrases, conversations, contexts, ancient language usages, and similar phrases.