Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Recently you may have hear this quip: "blah blah blah, economic crisis, blah blah blah...but we should all have some faith, for in Chinese the word "Crisis" is composed of two characters, the first means "Danger" but the second means "Opportunity", blah blah blah, therefore there is a silver lining in this economic shit storm apocalypse.I read something along those lines in the NYTimes recently and thought to look it up. Turns out, it's plain wrong. The first part of the word "危" (wei) does in fact mean danger. The second part 机 pronounced "ji" simply means "time." So 危机 (weiji) just means "dangerous time" - the ship is sinking, there aren't enough life-boats, ohshit ohshit.  It does not mean "Danger-Opportunity".
The confusion comes from the fact that the word "Opportunity" is 机会 / jihui, which contains the same /ji as in 危/weiji. So it is assumed that 机/ji must also mean "opportunity" - but it doesn't. Literally translated the word for opportunity is "Time机 - Able会" (会/hui means "able") as in: time-when-things-can-be-done. Here again, 机/ji just means Time - that's all it means. It has never meant "opportunity" and their word for "crisis" will never mean anything other than a "dangerous time".. so bascially, we're all screwed.

1 comment:

  1. I know a kid who has 危机 tattooed on his bicep. He will be upset to hear this.