Saturday, January 01, 2005

What does 효(孝) mean?

효(孝) means "filial piety" or "filial duty." In other words, 효 means to honor and serve one's parents. The Chinese character for 효 is a combination of 노(老), which means "old," and 자(子), which means "son." The character symbolizes a son carrying an elderly parent on his back. Transporting an elderly parent on one's back was once considered a typical act of filial piety in Korea and other Asian countries.


  1. Say, isn't carrying one's parents on one's back a 고려장? ^^

  2. Say, isn't "a son carrying an elderly parent on his back" the classical image of 고려장? ^^

  3. Sorry about the reduplicated post. The first time didn't appear to have gone through.

    There's the other interesting 효: 梟. Owl. Ok, fine, owl. But this 효 is the opposite of that 효: "올빼미는 제 어미를 잡아먹고, (작은 범)은 제 애비를 잡아먹음. 불효한 악인을 비유한다." And that's cool, I suppose, if owls *really* eat their parents.

    But then where does 효수(梟首)하다 "to gibbet" come from? Surely a nasty fate, by why is it linked to this most un-filial of fowl? So many quesitons... ^^

    You know, my boss' name is 하효수부장, and my coworkers love to call him "효수형," with a concealed snicker.


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