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On the Chinese character 红

Now that we find ourselves in a populist paradise where anyone (good or bad) might easily find Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame—be it by footage of carnal acts in the romantic setting of the UNIQLO fitting room or by bold and largely inadvisable political statements online—red, or 红 (hóng), has become the most sought after color of them all. To become "web red", or 网红 (wǎnghóng, online celebrity), is a dream many hold.

我们身处一个平民主义的乐园,在这里,每个人(不管是好人还是坏人)都可以轻松地成为安迪•沃霍尔所说的15分钟名人——不论是通过优衣库浪漫试衣间的肉欲表演视频,抑或是在网上发表大胆、不明智的政治宣言。"红"(hóng, red)如今已成为人们最热衷追求的颜色。成为"网红" (wǎnghóng, online celebrity) 是许多人的梦想。

Red is undoubtedly China's favorite color, with connotations of auspiciousness, revolution, and now a large and diverse internet celebrity community.

作为吉祥、革命、以及如今庞大而又多样的网络名人圈的象征,红色无疑是中国人最喜欢的颜色。

It took a long time for the character 红 to rise to its current fame. On the left side, the "silk" radical, , represents its meaning, as many once associated the color of red with dyed silk. The 工 (gōng) radical on the right indicates pronunciation. The modern dictionary may tell you 红 is the color of blood, but in ancient times the character referred to the color pink—a color created by weaving red and white silk threads together.

"红" 经历了长时间的努力才有今天的名气。它左侧的"纟"表明了它的意思,因为人们会将红色与染色的丝绸相联系;而其右侧的"工" (gōng) 则代表着它的发音。现代的词典可能告诉你"红"是血的颜色,但是在古代,这个汉字的意思是"粉红色",即将红色丝绸与白色丝绸混织而成的颜色。

The words representing red in ancient times were 赤 (chì) and 朱 (zhū) and are still in use. A poem famously depicted the gap between the rich and the poor, "朱门酒肉臭,路有冻死骨." (Zhūmén jiǔròu chòu, lù yǒu dòng sǐ gǔ. Inside the red doors flows the fragrance of wine and meat, while falling bodies of the starved dot the road.)

在古代,红色是用赤 (chì) 和朱 (zhū) 来表达,这种用法一直延续至今。有一句描写贫富差距的诗句非常出名,"朱门酒肉臭,路有冻死骨", 意思是"Inside the red doors flows the fragrance of wine and meat, while falling bodies of the starved dot the road".

When red was mostly associated with revolution, to call someone "red" was a compliment to their great loyalty to the revolution. Today, "red tourism", or 红色旅游 (hóngsè lǚyóu), themed tours of the Communist Party's historic sites, is still very popular.

以前,人们通常将红色与革命相联系,称某人"红"是对其忠诚于革命的赞美。如今,以共产党历史遗址为主题的红色旅游(hóngsè lǚyóu)很受欢迎。

Traditionally, red is the color of wealth, celebration, and good fortune. When we are describing something flourishing, prosperous, or thriving, we use the word 红火 (hónghuǒ). For instance, 生意红火起来了 (shēngyì hónghuǒ qǐlái le), or "business is booming". Bonus or dividend is 红利 (hónglì), while 分红 (fēnhóng) means "to give bonuses or receive dividends". 红包 (hóngbāo), or red envelopes stuffed with money, are often given in private as a gift, tip, bonus, or, sometimes, as a bribe. In the term 红白喜事 (hóng bái xǐshì), or "red and white affairs", the red affair refers to weddings and the white refers to funerals. People want 开门红 (kāiménhóng) for the new year—literally "open door red", which means a smooth and successful year from the beginning. The "red luck", or 红运 (hóngyùn), is the kind of good luck you want. If someone is lucky, you can say 走红运 (zǒu hóngyùn). For example, 你真是走红运,什么好事儿都让你遇上了.(Nǐ zhēnshì zǒu hóngyùn, shénme hǎoshìr dōu ràng nǐ yù shàng le. You are so lucky; only good things seem to happen to you.)

传统上,红色象征着财富、喜庆与好运。我们用"红火"(hónghuǒ)表示繁荣兴旺。比如,"生意红火起来了" (shēngyì hónghuǒ qǐlái le)意为 "business is booming"。Bonus 或 dividend 称为"红利"(hónglì),而"分红"则是"分发奖金"或"收取股息"的意思。"红包"(hóngbāo)指私底下给的礼物、小费、奖金,有时候甚至是贿赂。而在"红白喜事"(hóng bái xǐshì)一词中,"红事"指婚礼,而"白事"指葬礼。新年的时候,人们期望能"开门红"(kāiménhóng),其意为"新年伊始就能顺顺利利"。"红运"则是每个人期望得到的好运气。如果某人很走运,你可以说他"走红运" (zǒu hóngyùn). 比如,"你真是走红运,什么好事儿都让你遇上了"(Nǐ zhēnshì zǒu hóngyùn, shénme hǎoshìr dōu ràng nǐ yù shàng le) 意思是"You are so lucky; only good things seem to happen to you". 

If you are a little bit jealous of such luck, the word to use is 眼红 (yǎnhóng), literally meaning "red-eyed", the Chinese word for the green-eyed monster—just on the opposite side of the color spectrum.

如果你有一点儿嫉妒这种运气,"眼红" (yǎnhóng) 这个词就可以派上用场了。"眼红"相当于英语中的"green-eyed monster", 两种颜色刚好相反。

走红 (zǒuhóng) is short for 走红运, which does not only mean to "have good luck", but also means "popular". For instance, 猫咪洗澡的视频在网上很走红. (Māomī xǐzǎo de shìpín zài wǎng shàng hén zǒuhóng. Videos of cats taking a bath are very popular online.) Or 他是目前最走红的歌星. (Tā shì mùqián zuì zǒuhóng de gēxīng. He is the most popular singer right now.)

"走红" (zǒuhóng) 是"走红运"的简称。但是除了"运气好"的意思外,"走红"还有"受欢迎"的意思。比如,"猫咪洗澡的视频在网上很走红" (Māomī xǐzǎo de shìpín zài wǎng shàng hén zǒuhóng) 意为"Videos of cats taking a bath are very popular online"; "他是目前最走红的歌星" (Tā shì mùqián zuì zǒuhóng de gēxīng) 意为"He is the most popular singer right now".

Popular people are naturally 红人 (hóngrén), literally "red people". For example, 网络红人 (wǎngluò hóngrén, "internet red people"), or "online celebrity" — often shortened to 网红 ("web red"). Red people can also mean those who are favored by power. For instance, 他是老板面前的红人. (Tā shì lǎobǎn miànqián de hóngrén. He is the boss's favorite.)

受欢迎的人自然就是"红人" (hóngrén). 比如,经常简称为"网红"的 "网络红人" (wǎngluò hóngrén) 指的是"online celebrity". 此外,"红人"还可以指受领导器重的人。比如,"他是老板面前的红人"(Tā shì lǎobǎn miànqián de hóngrén)意为"He is the boss's favorite".

For those who are extremely popular, you can describe them as 大红大紫 (dà hóng dà zǐ, literally "super red and purple") or 红得发紫(hóng de fā zǐ, literally "so red it starts to turn purple"). But remember an old saying, 花无百日红(huā wú bǎi rì hóng, "a flower, though beautiful, cannot retain its beauty for a hundred days.") No fame lasts forever, and people love nothing more than a fall from grace. So, as you see all the auspicious red symbols of this new spring, perhaps spare a thought for the reds who don't fare so well.

对于那些非常受欢迎的人,你可以用"大红大紫" (dà hóng dà zǐ) 或"红得发紫" (hóng de fā zǐ) 来形容他们。但是,请记住这句古话"花无百日红"(huā wú bǎi rì hóng), 意思是"no fame lasts forever, and people love nothing more than a fall from grace"。因此,当你阅尽新春所有幸运的红色符号后,不妨关心一下这些不是那么成功的红色。


The article is translated and editted by Chinlingo. Please indicate the source for any use, reproduction or transfer. 

本文由Chinlingo编译后发布,如需转载,请标明来源。


2016-06-21

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