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Has "管理 = manage" something to do with plumbing, making pipes or taking care of them?

As far as I know 管 is a measure word for tube-shaped objects. So my logic suggest that 管理 is an meaning-extension for managing pipe-works or running pipes, plumbing. Managing here is taken as a metaphore for guiding the "flow" in the desired direction.

Am I right? Does a native speaker feels this connotation in 管理? If so then what connotation does a native feel in 处理?

And I would be very greatful if someone lists all the verbs in similar form to 管理 and 处理 with meaning "to manage" and their connotations. Thanks.

p.s. I think this additional question will be absolutly silly but... Does 尽管 have somethign to do with piping etymology of 管? You know, there are a lot of "although"s in chinese and some help with differentiation between them would be great.

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Has "管理 = manage" something to do with plumbing, making pipes or taking care of them?

No.

管理 is simply a modern combination of two related verbs for the Western concept of "management".

, as a verb, carries a heavy connotation of restriction and setting rules.

, as a verb, carries the meaning of intervening or acting.

As far as I know 管 is a measure word for tube-shaped objects.

No. 管 is either a noun or a verb. When it's a noun, it's the tube itself.

So my logic suggest that 管理 is an meaning-extension for managing pipe-works or running pipes, plumbing.

管 by itself does not carry the meaning of any pipe-works or running pipes. Water pipes are exactly expressed as 水管. Pipes (for utilities) or circular tunnels (transportation and escape routes) can be expressed as 管道.

Managing here is taken as a metaphore for guiding the "flow" in the desired direction.

Traditional Chinese philosophy of "management" suggests that good leaders should lead by example -- they should stick to the highest moral standards, and be kind to its people. It also concerns itself with law, order and inter-state relations. It does not, in any way, involve deciding directions, strategic planning or management by objectives.

Etymology of terms for modern concepts rarely deal with philosophy. Modern Chinese likes disyllabic verb phrases for representing concepts (two verbs = one noun). Many of these translations are not accurate representations of the concept as a whole; many of them are terms borrowed from the Japanese after the Opium War.

A similar example is 責任 (responsibility), which is composed of characters meaning scold and appointment. The combination of words does not suggest that scold and appointment are the main ideas to responsibility.


尽管 "even though" has nothing to do with pipes either. 尽管 is one single morpheme; the two characters by themselves mean nothing related to the meaning of the whole phrase. The characters are simply borrowed for their pronunciation.

Similar examples include 什么 and 怎么 -- their meanings of "what" and "how" are not explainable by studying the meaning of the separate characters.


Terms related to 管理 and their meanings:

管理: to manage (by rules, procedures, regulations, strategies, etc).

处理: to handle, to process. 处理身后事 managing affairs (after death), 文书处理 word processing.

管治: to administer, to govern (as in governments governing people)

整理: to reorganize, as in cleaning up a messy room or desk, or organizing collected information (for a research project)

治理: to fix, usually something involving public health, public order or public utilities. 治理河道 river training.

整治: similar to the above, but with a more aggressive tone. May concern itself more with "correcting" bad trends.

整頓:similar to the above, but often directed towards industries. It carries the implication that a short-term (financial) loss would be incurred in exchange for long-term sustainability. 整頓旅遊業 suggests rooting out bad practices in the tourism industry.

管制:to regulate; to restrict. 利润管制 regulation of profits. 隧道管制區 Tunnel Control Area. 進出口管制 import/export restrictions. 排放管制 emission restrictions.

管束: to restrict, to hinder. Usually one party has authority over the other, i.e. parents over their kids.

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It's hard to answer all you questions once, just one of them

1. Does a native speaker feels this connotation in 管理?

No, at least I don't.

For 管理, it has nothing to do with 管子/管道 (tube;pipe).

From 新汉英大辞典,

管理 [guǎn lǐ]
1. manage; run; administer; supervise; rule; administration; management; regulation:

2. Managing here is taken as a metaphore for guiding the "flow" 
in the desired direction.

Of course, broadly speaking, you could say that but literally it doesn't.

Here 's a perspective about the meaning evolution from to 管理.

“管”的实义动词义,应是由其名词义发展而来的。其语义演变过程大体是:最初指一种乐器,而后代指这种形状的东西,尤指“键”。再有此发展到管钥匙,主管库房的人,再衍生出动词义“掌管、管理”;

[ “管” 's notional verb meaning should be developed from its noun meaning. The meaning evolution is roughly: first indicates a kind of instrument, and then indicates things with this kind of shape, especially key. And then developed to person who is in charge of the key or storehouse, then derived the verb meaning of be in charge of; administer, manage. ]

So 管理 's literal sense should be administer;control;in chare of.

  • Do you feel "administer of keys" connotation then? :) You must feel something!!! Do you feel 处理 as "in position i.e. who is in charge" connotation? – coobit Mar 1 '16 at 11:33
  • @coobit Yes, but not "of keys", since the meaning of "key" is not used almost nowadays. And there're many words contain with the similar meaning, such as 管辖, 管束, 主管, 监管... – songyuanyao Mar 1 '16 at 11:39
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    Maybe it has some relations with 管子, but not the tube, the 管仲. The Duke of Qi let 管子 to manage his land, then the Duke became the first chief of vassal states of Zhou. 管子 was also became the ancient minister's idol in the following history of China. Managing like 管仲, called 管理. – wolfrevo Mar 1 '16 at 11:51

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