Crisis – A Lesson in Word Origins

When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity. ~ John F Kennedy

I first read that on the back cover of a counseling textbook when I was in graduate school, and I have it in my quotes pages on my website.

I thought it was a great perspective, and then I didn’t think about it past that until the other day when I wanted to mention it to someone and decided to look it up online.

That’s when I found that in Mandarin it’s not exactly a correct translation, but it does have some connection, and the word crisis also means a turning point.

Here are the two essays about the origins of the word that I found interesting and want to share:

“Crisis” an essay by Dave Wilton on
“Crisis” Does NOT Equal “Danger” Plus “Opportunity – How a misunderstanding about Chinese characters has led many astray.
by Victor H. Mair, professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania, with contributions from Denis Mair and Zhang Liqing.

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