The word 演绎 had been used by Chinese literati long before it acquired the precise modern meaning.

I wonder exactly who made the link between 演绎 and deduction?

The definition on baidu makes you want to puke. It gives ancient use cases followed by modern definitions. Did ancients understand 演绎 as modern Chinese do? What was the ancients' definition of 演绎?

  • “It gives ancient use cases followed by modern definitions.” Then you can check whether 演绎 means deduction in the "ancient use cases".
    – ltux
    May 20, 2017 at 9:13
  • We need sources like this to raise the level of scholarship on this site: docin.com/p-1508708233.html May 20, 2017 at 14:27

2 Answers 2


For Deduction

Definition of Deduction: (From Webster's Dict)

  1. a : an act of taking away b : something that is or may be subtracted
  2. a : the deriving of a conclusion by reasoning b : a conclusion reached by logical deduction

Let check the 演绎

Definition of 演绎:(I don't have official Chinese dictionary on hand so I used my common sense)

  1. verb. Acting, Show
  2. noun. the process of getting a conclusion by logical reasoning.(as poopsed to 'sum up')

Let be aware of the history of word'演绎'. For the English-Chinese translation experts(around the 1900s), using the '演绎' was the reasonable choice at that time.

And since it's like more than 100 years. I believe nobody would remember who firstly use this word. It's naturally used because its meaning of so close(or even the same) to "deduction".

The same logic could be applied to "米国"(Japanese) and "USA"(English). No one ever remembers who created "米国"

There's a detailed blog regarding ancient usage of 演绎 and演译.

  • @GeorgeChen the ancient's definition is similar what we used(in the logical area) today.
    – Kevman
    May 19, 2017 at 18:54
  • 演 originally means long flowing river. Now it means perform, deduce, evolve. If only someone can explain how the meanings of this character have travelled this far. May 19, 2017 at 23:54
  • @GeorgeChen Search“衍”&“演”. Possibly an interchangeable word pair. Quote "通“衍”。推演[deduce]      於是敷演舊章,奏而改焉。――《三國志·高堂隆傳》      敷演皇極,流化萬里。――《三國志·胡綜傳》"
    – Kevman
    May 20, 2017 at 2:13
  • 1
    @GeorgeChen The evidence you required: 漢 陸賈 《新語‧明誡》: “觀天之化, 推演萬事之類。” ▶ 《三國志‧蜀志‧諸葛亮傳》: “推演兵法, 作八陳圖, 咸得其要云。” ▶ 《朱子語類》卷四七: “最苦是世間所謂聰明之人卻去推演其(釋氏)說。” ▶ 明 歸有光 《<經序錄>序》: “然雖有成書, 而多所未盡, 賴後人因其端以推演之。”
    – ltux
    May 20, 2017 at 8:56
  • 1
    "I don't think it means deduction in the modern sense". It doesn't need to be exactly the same. Similarity does give enough reasonableness for translation. Aristotle's syllogism is just a summarization of something that has long be used before Aristole. Before Aristotle gave the definition of syllogism, people are already using it as a deduction method, even they didn't give this method a name or clear definition. ->
    – ltux
    May 21, 2017 at 9:46

The English word deductive's Chinese counter part, 演绎, is the same as its Japanese counterpart 演繹.

Since China imported a lot of words from Japan in the early 1900s, it is very likely that this translation of deductive was also imported from Japan. Therefore that remarkable individual I am looking for is very likely to be a Japanese.

  • Very unlikely. I searched the original of Japanese "演繹". And it linked back to 《朱子語類》 Ref :weblio.jp/content/%E6%BC%94%E7%B9%B9 . Which is not surprised since Chinese culture affected Japanese culture in the ancient time.
    – Kevman
    May 23, 2017 at 0:05
  • Please pay attention to my wording. I actually put quite a bit of thoughts in it: it was the translation, i.e. the link between deduction and 演繹 that was established by a Japanese person and latter was imported by China. Of course 演繹 originally came from the glorious nation of China; what I meant is that its modern meaning was very likely assigned by a Japanese scholar, probably a very famous person. May 23, 2017 at 1:53

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