Discussion in 'Chinese Language' started by 朱真明, Jan 27, 2016.

  1. 朱真明

    朱真明 进士

    The term 妝 according to most Chinese and Chinese-English dictionaries offered by Pleco is:

    1- Specifically woman's make-up
    2- To dress up using make-up (sometimes also specific for woman)

    Now, I wouldn't have any point of contention if the definition of 妝 meant make-up, apply make-up and also in certain circumstances, woman's make-up (if there is such a thing).

    That is until I saw the 古漢語大辭典 (1) which specifically chose not to use "Woman" in any of the definitions of 妝.

    This leads me to question, Is there any situation in which 妝 can only be applied to "Woman" and if in that context there was a "Man" instead, then you would either not use this term or use a different word suitable for men?

  2. Shun

    Shun 状元

    Hi, in the dictionaries I've looked at, the only place I've seen a gender-specific use for 妝 is "jewellery worn by women", other than that I've only seen gender-neutral definitions. So a man who applies make-up (for a Beijing opera, for example) should also be able to use the term 妝, or 化妝. You probably know that the 古漢語大辭典 is a Classical-to-Modern Chinese dictionary, so it can only be consulted for Modern Chinese meanings with some interpretation.

    Hope this helps, Shun
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2016
    alex_hk90 likes this.
  3. 朱真明

    朱真明 进士

    Even so, with the term 妝, if it meant woman's make-up in modern times it would be hard to believe that it didn't mean that in ancient times as well, especially considering the differences in their cultures today.

    Of course, there is no such thing as woman's make-up. What is considered woman's make-up is defined culturally. I wonder, if all men started to wear the so called woman's make-up tomorrow then would the term change it's meaning based on statistical usage or would the cultural definition of woman's make-up be so hard-wired that you would still call it woman's make-up.

    One example; a common term of address for kindergarten teachers (which are predominantly female) is 阿姨. When males started to take this job, the children instead of calling them 叔叔 they called them 鬍子阿姨
  4. Shun

    Shun 状元

    Maybe if 妝 only meant woman's make-up and men started to apply make-up more, it could be adapted to men with no change because there is no hint at the gender in 妝. If, however, a term had a clear reference to women in it, it would have to change if it started to be used for men. (like with 阿姨)

    Of course, there is the 女 in 妝, but I guess most characters are too old to be analyzed by the reader like that, they're just taken as a whole.
  5. feng

    feng 榜眼

    Things will change when people want them to change. That's the way language works. Efforts to police the language will backfire, as people don't like to be forced to do things.
  6. Shun

    Shun 状元

    Sure, I think that's what we both had implied.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2016

Share This Page