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Phoenix - 凤凰


darcey

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I'm trying to get some understanding of the word "phoenix" in Chinese. I've seen it 3 different ways:

1. 鳳/凤 - fèng

2. 凰 - huáng

3. combination of the 2 characters (凤凰)

What is the correct way to write "phoenix", or are they all right? What is the difference between them? I remember reading that the symbol of the phoenix was reserved for the empresses, and that some empresses would have "phoenix" in their name, but I have not had luck finding clarification on how they had their names written. I've also seen that "fèng" is the male phoenix, and "huáng" the female phoenix; is that correct?

All the research I can find now has things like "Fènghuáng" is a common element in the names of Chinese girls (likewise, "dragon" for boys' names)". Would you actually see girls with "phoenix" in their name today? If you did, would it have the element of fènghuáng, fèng or huáng?

This has been one of the most confusing/frustrating things for me. :help I like phoenix' (phoenixes?) so I always am curious how to say 'phoenix' in other languages and the mythology behind them, and trying to wrap my head around this has been difficult. Any clarification or help would be appreciated.

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What is the correct way to write "phoenix", or are they all right? What is the difference between them?

Hehe.

鳳/凤 means a male phoenix. 鳳 is the traditional character, while 凤 is the simplified one. In China mainland, we use simplified characters, but people in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and oversea Chinese usually use traditional characters.

凰 means a female phoenix. The traditional and simplified version of this character is the same.

As you might image, 凤凰 means phoenixes (both male and female are included).

Cheers!

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The two characters are used in names. Usually only one of the characters (either 鳳 or 凰)is used in a name, probably because using both conveys too grand / flamboyant an image. Usually they are used in female names but sometime they appear in male names. 鳳 is also a surname.

鳳 is quite popular in female names. Thus another term is generated in HK - "一樓一鳳", one woman in an apartment, referring to prostitutes. I am not sure if this term is understood in other places.

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OK.. so if you were going to use an adjective, would you have to pick 凤, 凰 or 凤凰? Would you only use 凤凰 if you were speaking in generic or plural, and otherwise specify 凤or 凰? I know that 凤凰 isn't the same as a European phoenix (some similar elements but not identical), so I would like to ensure that I'm understanding it right.

Pardon my (likely horrible) grammar: " 这个凤凰是 小" - or would it be "这个凤是 小" (if I was referring specifically for a male phoenix)?

Part of me now wants to ask lots of questions about why girls' names would have 鳳 if that represents a male phoenix.... but I'm also just horribly curious about this sort of thing. :) I Google'd 凤 & 凰 and found lots of girls names with 凤 and boys names with 凰, and that's opposite what I'd expected. Names fascinate me, especially since I come from a culture (American) where it's all about sound and spelling and not about the meaning of the name.

Thank you so much for your patience with these odd questions!

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OK.. so if you were going to use an adjective, would you have to pick 凤, 凰 or 凤凰? Would you only use 凤凰 if you were speaking in generic or plural, and otherwise specify 凤or 凰? I know that 凤凰 isn't the same as a European phoenix (some similar elements but not identical), so I would like to ensure that I'm understanding it right.

In Chinese, phoenix is never used as an adjective. I'm sure the Chinese version can't reborn from fire like the Western version does, which also translates to 不死鸟.

Pardon my (likely horrible) grammar: " 这个凤凰是 小" - or would it be "这个凤是 小" (if I was referring specifically for a male phoenix)?

I would say 这只凤凰的体型较小. The use of 体型 prevents the sentence from being read as this phoenix is young, and that of 较, imo, is for it sounding natural.

Part of me now wants to ask lots of questions about why girls' names would have 鳳 if that represents a male phoenix.... but I'm also just horribly curious about this sort of thing. I Google'd 凤 & 凰 and found lots of girls names with 凤 and boys names with 凰, and that's opposite what I'd expected. Names fascinate me, especially since I come from a culture (American) where it's all about sound and spelling and not about the meaning of the name.

I really don't know. There is a male fictional character called 苗人凤 created by my favourite martial arts writer 金庸. I used to think 凤 was only for girls, but 苗人凤 just sounds abosutely fine to me.

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Part of me now wants to ask lots of questions about why girls' names would have 鳳 if that represents a male phoenix.... but I'm also just horribly curious about this sort of thing. I Google'd 凤 & 凰 and found lots of girls names with 凤 and boys names with 凰, and that's opposite what I'd expected. Names fascinate me, especially since I come from a culture (American) where it's all about sound and spelling and not about the meaning of the name.

One of the main characters in 红楼梦 (A Dream of Red Mansions) is 王熙凤. The "凤" appears to be related to the fact that she was brought up as if she was a boy: 自幼假充男儿教养的,学名王熙凤。.

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  • 3 weeks later...

another phoenix related question:

Lately I've told 2 groups of Chinese people the bird that represents the empress and goes along with the dragon is called a phoenix, and they looked at me like I'm horribly wrong but they don't want to embarrass me. But that's what we call it!!! They insist, no, a phoenix is the bird that gets reborn every 500 yrs or whatever, and that this is NOT the word for their phoenix. They say simply, it is not the same bird.

SO.... is there another English word for THEIR phoenix? I've never heard of one. All my life a phoenix can be both those birds.

I know what I'll say next time, I'll say yes, how about the word dragon? It can mean your kind or our kind, right? That'll shut 'em up. haha...

But first I want to make sure there's no other English word for their phoenix that I'm ignorant of.

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I know what I'll say next time, I'll say yes, how about the word dragon? It can mean your kind or our kind, right? That'll shut 'em up. haha...

Unless they are one of the people that are convinced that the dragon should be called loong in english so as to distinguish it from the "western" one. Of course these are the people that think most western dragons have more than one head (correction on this: greek dragons have more than one head, western dragons being slain by knights only have one). It's all the same- phoenix/dragon, they just have different cultural implications, get over it and lets move on, not everything has to have it's own translation.

For reference in case you haven't heard of the loong thing

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Thanks.

I read the beginning of that article, but at my level it's a strain to keep it up so I google-read the rest.

Ridiculous. Even all western dragons aren't mean anyway. I've seen children's books with them being portrayed as friendly. Dragons can be anything, they're not real, hello. :wink:

In chinese, what do they call a western dragon or a western phoenix (the kind that's reborn)?

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