君子之交淡如水

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by Molisang, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. Molisang New Member

    New Zealand
    Chinese
    Mr. A leads a secluded way of life. When his friends urge him to be more active in his social life, he alway replies: "My view about social life is 君子之交淡如水。” can anybody please help me to translate this Chinese phrase?
     
  2. Rikkify New Member

    Canada
    English, Mandarin, Taiwanese
    "Friendships between gentleman should be as light as water", meaning that the person prefers only a genuine and humble relationship within the social life.
     
  3. Molisang New Member

    New Zealand
    Chinese
    Hi, Rikkify
    Thank you for the contribution.
     
  4. Bread2

    Bread2 Junior Member

    USA
    English -US
    Hi, if I understood this correctly, basically what he wants to say is that between friends, there should be a lack of indulgences that do not appeal to the mind/spirit?
    The entire idiom is: 君子之交淡如水, 小人之交甘若醴
    I read the story on this and I understand it but seems hard to describe. Would it be best explained as real friends have a meeting of the minds and do not require extroverted/superficial/material reassurance to maintain their friendship?
     
  5. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    UK
    English (UK)
    "Chengyu" are short sayings and therefore under different contexts, the same chengyu may be interpreted very differently.
    If I understand correctly the context as referred to in post #1, "淡如水" here is "insipid", "boring", not worth getting into. On the other hand, another person may describe his relationship with a female friend as "君子之交淡如水", meaning that it's a proper, healthy relationship (and there is nothing sensational in it ;)). Away from such special contexts, "君子之交淡如水" simply means the interaction/ relationship between "junzi" is often sincere and ordinary.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  6. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    You grasped the gist of that saying, and I cannot say it any better than you did. The game of sweet pleasantries and intoxicating flatteries is what 小人 play to achieve their utilitarian needs. "sweet wine", which has a honeyed texture and rich viscosity, is also called "stickies" in Australian English. 小人 stick together, not necessarily because they enjoy the company of each other, but often because it is part of social rituals or conformity. Gangsters hang out together and call each other "brother" all the time, but when the time comes, they won't hesitate to kill each other.
    Without hedonic and utilitarian motives, there are no strings attached in 君子之交. They do something for their friends without asking for or expecting anything in return. They don't feel obliged to hang out or "stick" together because individuality, not conformity, is what sparks their mutual admiration in the first place. They respect the personal space of others. 君子之交淡如水 is therefore sometimes translated as "A hedge between keeps friendship green."
    水 is an interesting thing. It doesn't have the sticky texture and yet it cannot be cut into fragments with a knife. 君 子之交 has a similar nature. True friends don't hang out together all the time. But when you need them, you know they will always be there for you.
     
  7. Bread2

    Bread2 Junior Member

    USA
    English -US
    Very interesting, thanks for the response guys, and thank you for your in depth explanation Skatinginbc.
     
  8. lyx1692

    lyx1692 Senior Member

    汉语
    I'm a Chinese guy. But I'm not sure I can explain it in English. My English is poor.
    It means the best friendship is not like wine, it's peaceful, quiet, pure, but last forever, and will never be changed.

    Very sorry, I really want to expaint it, but it's hard to me in English.
     
  9. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    UK
    English (UK)
    "It means the best friendship is not like wine, it's peaceful, quiet, pure, but last forever."
    This is very well expressed, lyx1692! Not many English speakers can do better.
    Welcome to the forum! :)
     

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