Monday, October 17, 2005

What does 영감(靈感) mean?

Thomas Edison once said, "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration," which translates in Korean as, "천재는 1퍼센트의 영감과 99퍼센트의 땀으로 만들어진다." When I saw that saying in this story about Thomas Edison on the Korean Lab Web site, I became curious about what Chinese characters are used for 영감 and looked up the word in my dictionary.

The Chinese characters for 영감 are 靈 and 感. 영(靈) means "spirit" or "soul," and 감(感) means "feeling." The literal meaning of the two characters is "feeling of a spirit." Apparently, the Chinese feel that one receives inspiration when one is "touched by a spirit."

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