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I asked my proficient friend if this sentence was 病句 or not:

我尊重中国的工程公司。

He replied: Someone like a President could say this, and it would be OK. Were a normal person (仆人?) to say this, it'd be considered 不礼貌. Why is this?

I asked him (we were speaking in Chinese) but I think I missed his point, so I'm asking the kind community here on StackOverflow.

The usage examples on Youdao have what seem to be similar sentences. For example:

在我们国家中工会受到人们的尊重。

Labour unions are respectified in our country.

Is the difference the inclusion of 我?

谢谢!

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First you have to know the difference between 尊敬 (respect) and 尊重(respect)

尊敬 is respect with admiration. For example, "I respect my teacher"; "I respect scientists"

尊重 is respect with acceptance or tolerance, mostly treat as equal. For example, "the court respect the defendant's right to remain silent" ; I respect your opinion (although I think it is stupid); I respect women's right (although I think men are superior)

I would not go as far as saying it is impolite to use 尊重 when you should use 尊敬; it is just not respectful enough

Beside 尊重 is not 尊敬, the problem with the sentence "我尊重中国的工程公司" is that we don't know in what aspect you respect Chinese engineering companies. Is it their reputation? If it is their reputation, then what kind of reputation you are referring to?

The topic: 'Chinese engineering companies' is just too general to pinpoint what is the respectable element, we need something specific, for example, "I respect Chinese engineering companies' innovative thinking"

"在我们国家中工会受到人们的尊重" implies people respect the union; not unlike the way you respect your neighbors

"在我们国家中工会受到人们的尊敬" implies people respect and admire the union. We all know the union's reputation is protecting labor's right against big companies' unfair treatment of their workers

Note:

尊敬/ 敬佩 = respect and admire; 敬重= respect and value; 佩服 = admire; 尊重 = respect (as equal)

  • Really interesting the difference between those two words. I treated them as the same thing. Thanks for the explanation. – Enrico Brasil Dec 25 '18 at 18:31
  • @Enrico Brasil It is easy to remember. Everyone can demand '受到尊重'(to be respected as an equal like everyone else, be treated fairly and with dignity); but you cannot demand '受到敬重' (to be respected and admired) – Tang Ho Dec 26 '18 at 0:27
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I am almost certain given your explanation that the reason why your friend said 不礼貌 has nothing to do with the original difference between 尊重/尊敬.

But yes, the meaning of 尊重 is a bit alienated in today's political environment, likely due to the abused translation from Respect to 尊重. Just as Tangho points out "respect with acceptance or tolerance, mostly treat as equal.", this aspect of respect is 尊重, too in the reports nowadays. Daily usage of 尊重 is quite the same with 尊敬. But the word sounds a bit harsh, especially from a foreigner addressing something like a Chinese company, conjuring people of repugnant vocabulary of the politicians from the western world such as "We hope Chinese government give due respect to..." or "We respect the diversity of ..." etc. but truely conveying the intention of interference or exact the opposite of respect. Since in these cases respect are often simply translated as 尊重, inevitably 尊重 is alienated and should be used with discretion.

And that means he/she thinks since as an individual, you are not on parity with a corporation, adding the marred meaning of 尊重, you somehow do not have the qualification to make such a comment.

That is similar to this meme:

A panda meme

Anything but 尊重 will do, sinse they don't imply ill things and arouse uncomfortable feelings. Or you may specify the reason why you respect it to substantiate your good will.

  • "Daily usage of 尊重 is quite the same with 尊敬" -- No, their usage should be different. 尊敬 usually apply to people or people's deed, while 尊重 can be applied to non-human concepts, for example, we need to 尊重國家法律 (accept it) , but we don't need to 尊敬(respect and admire) it – Tang Ho Dec 25 '18 at 19:12
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我尊重中国的工程公司 sounds fine to me. But I would expect, most likely, it's been said by foreigners, because it naturally puts an emphasis on 中国的. The sentence conveys the idea that the speaker is impressed by 中国的工程公司. It might be because those 中国的工程公司 he dealt with provided good services, quality and etc.

Put it into a bit context:

我尊重中国的工程公司, 因为他们有一流的建造工艺和良好的信誉。

By the way, I don't see it being impolite(不礼貌) in any sense here and  a normal person is 普通人 or 正常人, not 仆人.

  • 尊重 means you treat them as your equal and respect all their rights. It make sense for a foreign company to make this statement, but not for any person unrelated to the field. If there's something these companies do that you admire, you should use 敬佩 or 佩服 – Tang Ho Dec 25 '18 at 11:53
  • Your example implies there's something to be admired of. A better example would be "美國政府尊重中国的工程公司在美國運作的權利" (The US government respects the right of Chinese engineering companies to operate in the United States). – Tang Ho Dec 25 '18 at 12:08
  • @TangHo, I don't see why "美國政府尊重中国的工程公司在美國運作的權利" would be a better example there. 尊重 doesn't have to be specific, as in 我们要尊重老人, 我们要尊重他人, etc. So, 尊重中国的工程公司 is a valid phrasing indeed. – dan Dec 25 '18 at 12:26
  • I said your example is poor, but I didn't say 我尊重中国的工程公司 is not a legit phrase, just inappropriate-- "因为他们有一流的建造工艺和良好的信誉" is something to be respected and admired of (敬佩 ) . not merely respected as your equal (尊重) – Tang Ho Dec 25 '18 at 12:43
  • @TangHo, I don't want to quibble over it. Just agree to disagree. – dan Dec 25 '18 at 12:52
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我尊重

in an English way sometimes sounds more like "I do respect you but...". If you really want to say "I respect you", it is more preferrable to say "I respect you very much", which would be

我非常尊重/尊敬你

The "very much" here serves to emphasize the respect, otherwise people may think you have some potential meaning. Of course, it is valid to merely say things like

我尊重你的选择。

which means I repect your choice. But using adverbs like extremely makes it more heartfelt. People all like heartfelt complimentary things. That's the reason why 舔狗 is so popular. As a result, to be more hearfelt, it is important to explain it why you respect it if you don't say those adverbs.

I think the problem might be this word in your sentence:

中国的公司

This raises the problem to a country level, describing things in a wider context. Anything that you said about a country, in a serious manner of speaking, no matter in what language, is concluding the attributes of all the people there. If you said anything bad about a country, people there will feel offended and dishonored.

Therefore, I don't think this is the problem of Chinese. You sentence sounds very ok and normal to me as a Chinese speaker. Just be careful, don't draw conclusions on people's country easily, or more broadly, any group of people who share the same attributes, especially right in front of them. They are very sensitive.

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