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Chinese or Japanese

Posted by ESC on January 11, 2004

In Reply to: Saving face/ losing face posted by ESC on January 11, 2004

: : Does anyone know the origin of this idiom, or of it's close cousin "Losing face"? Were they adopted to English from Chinese Japanese? Or did they exist in the language regardless of the Asian concept of "Face"?

: : Thank to whoever answer this

: : Rachel

I thought the phrase was Japanese. This site seems to be saying that "lose face" was a Chinese concept that the Japanese borrowed and then was picked up by English-speaking people.

: Here's what one reference says:

: LOSING FACE - "The Chinese have a phrase for losing one's dignity before others, and 'tiu lien' was simply translated into 'to lose face' by English traders there in the late 19th century. These same English, however, invented the phrase 'to save face,' 'to maintain one's dignity,' using the Chinese model." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).