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刻奇 is said to be a loanword from English meaning:

kitsch

Kitsch in short is said to be:

Kitsch is garish and sentimental art or other objects.

In long it is defined as:

Kitsch (/kɪtʃ/; loanword from German), also called cheesiness or tackiness, is art or other objects that appeal to popular rather than high art tastes. Such objects are sometimes appreciated in a knowingly ironic or humorous way.

In Chinese it is usually just simply translated: 媚俗.

Now we have questions on Zhihu popping up like:

and articles online like:

Which all seem to be talking about some type of group emotional contagion.

As far as I can see kitsch has no established psychological meaning in English & as 刻奇 is a loanword it is boggling to me where this meaning came from.

How did "kitsch" (刻奇) come to stand for emotional contagion in a group?


Many references claim that the idea is from the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being. But, even if it is supposed to come from the Milan Kundera novel - the ideas don't seem to really match up with the original novel itself, See: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera Home Literature The Unbearable Lightness of Being Analysis Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory Kitsch. There is quite a discrepancy between Kundera was saying and the way it is used in Chinese now. Perhaps it just comes from one misunderstanding after another.

  • Any source in zhihu must be taken with a pinch of salt. Kitsch can be translated to 媚俗 , 恶俗, 恶趣味, 滥情 depend on condition. – mootmoot Jan 4 at 16:17
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From the links you shared, the idea is come from the following quotation of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" - "Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch." And in those 2 Chinese articles it is described more like "group emotional hijacking" than "group emotional contagion". And yes, I think the author of the article "刻奇(Kitsch)是什么?如何克服刻奇?" misunderstood the conception in some way, then misled others who quote this article. The author said this: "不揣冒昧的理解是" , means "I presume that", and then expressed his/her understanding of Kitsch.

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From my own experience as a native speaker, "kitsch" (刻奇) is meaningless word itself as a loanword you mentioned. It does not yet blend into normal daily language use other than academic purpose.

Therefore, the next natural step for me will be "google" it and found out an alternative translation as 媚俗 (媚 to flatter, 俗 common group).

As a result, the connotation of 媚俗 will influence back to 刻奇 for us to think it means something with "group emotional contagion"

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