Abstract: According to Fei Xiaotong, ‘Words are the most important bridge’ (词是最主要的桥梁) between past and present and between generations belonging to the same culture. They are also the most important bridge between humans belonging to different cultures. The question arises to what extend can earthbound words (that is to say words which do not seem to have a readymade exact counterpart in the foreign language concerned) be transferred from one culture to the other in such a way that they are understood and maybe even of practical use in the other cultural environment while keeping their earthboundness, that is to say their original touch and meaning. This problem is discussed with respect to the Chinese word ‘moulüe (谋略)’, deeply rooted in the rich vocabulary of the ancient and modern Chinese Art of Planning.
Keywords: Intercultural communicability of earthbound words; strategy, ‘moulüe (谋略) – Supraplanning’, Sun Zi’s Art of War
Harro von Senger 胜雅律 is Professor of Sinology, University of Freiburg and (since 1982) Expert of the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law at Lausanne. He is also an expert on the Chinese military, and author of The 36 Stratagems for Business: Achieve Your Objectives through Hidden and Unconventional Strategies and Tactics and The Book of Stratagems: Tactics for Triumph and Survival, which has been translated into 14 languages.
Cite this article
Harro von Senger
Moulüe (supraplanning): On the problem of the transfer of earthbound words and concepts in the context of cultural exchange between China and the West
Journal of China in Comparative Perspective
Vol.1 Issue 1. 2015, p90-106