The mind is a funny thing. Mine had been ruminating on the fact that the Chinese language does not have a vocabulary category for spouses to scold each other. Did you know that?
When I was in university I was part of a Chinese community–ya, the one American in the whole bunch. One of my friends said that when he and his wife argued they did it in English because Chinese doesn’t have those words. Now, all these years later my mind brings that up…at 2:30 in the morning! And now 45 years later I protest.
Me: “You don’t need specific vocabulary to scold each other. You can use ordinary words. It is about communicating feelings and mental images. I don’t have enough Chinese vocabulary to demonstrate, but here is an example in English.”
“I am so angry…I am so angry with you! Oh! One breath of my white hot fury will incinerate the feathers off of General Tzao’s chicken!”
In my mind’s eye I see my friend collapse to the floor, helpless with laughter.
Me: “Check. I won that argument.” It seemed so funny to me that I had to wake my husband and tell him to double check to see if it was as funny as it was in my head. It was.
That happened several days ago but my mind was not done. Today it downloaded why there was no vocabulary for spousal bickering.
- It is not polite
- It is not honoring
- It destroys face (mien tzu)
Politeness, honor and keeping face are three very important aspects of Chinese culture so they never invented words that would destroy it. Wow, that’s brilliant. I think Jesus is very pleased with that aspect of the culture. In fact He encourages us through the apostle Paul.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 This would be polite, honoring and not only save face, it would add to it, seems to me.
Amazing what the mind will do without our direction! But I think now I will direct it to come up with something about the holidays! Hope yours are beginning well.
Shedding a little light…
Carol A. Brown
Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive.