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The Origin of ‘Fashion’ in Chinese: Imported or Created?
 
Christine Tsui
 
It is widely regarded that fashion (refers to clothing-fashion / clothing-in-vogue in this context) was firstly started from Europe and then expanded to the rest of the world. This paper aims to study “fashion” from vocabulary perspective to testify whether China imported the word of “fashion” from the West or actually it existed long before “fashion” was imported. Unlike Japanese and Korean languages who both adopt directly the pronunciation and transliteration form of the English word “fashion”, Chinese has its own version of the English word “fashion” - “shi zhuang”, which does not have any similarity with the English word in form and pronunciation, the two Chinese characters mean “clothing (zhuang) that fitting for the time (shi)”. The hypothesis is Chinese actually had her own edition of “fashion” long before the Western fashion was introduced to China – “fashion” is not something borrowed from the West. I will use textual analysis to explore all the Chinese characters and vocabularies that are related with “shi zhuang” (fashion) since history and compare the origin and meaning of the words with the English and French edition of “fashion” (since France is widely regarded as where ‘fashion’ started from) to testify whether Chinese created or imported the word of “fashion” from the West.  If Chinese had the word of “fashion” long before the West exported the word and material “fashion” to China that means “fashion” actually existed in non-Western countries before the West expanded it to the world.
 
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