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As a learner, when I see 再见 I see the literal "see you again" in the meaning of the characters. French has a similar expression for goodbye, "au revior", which also literally means "until (I) see you again". French also has "adieu" (lit: "to God") which is more of a final goodbye. Does 再见 imply you will meet again, as the literal meaning suggests?

(Context that inspired the question: In a reader telling the story of 荆轲, it says ...荆轲正在和朋友们说再见。“风很大啊水很冷,勇敢的人去了,永不再回!” Which literally says, "He was saying "see you again". He said, "...[I'm] never coming back again!")

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    I think 再见 is much simpler, just goodbye. Although in some context, it may refer to the meaning of "Never Gonna Meet Again(because of death, breaking up or whatever)". – 炸鱼薯条德里克 Dec 27 '18 at 7:51
  • No, the inspired question is a bad translation. 告别 should be used instead of 再见. – mootmoot Dec 28 '18 at 11:14
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Does 再见 imply you will meet again, as the literal meaning suggests?

Yes 再 = again; 见= see; 再见 = (see again) goodbye

荆轲正在和朋友们说再见。“风很大啊水很冷,勇敢的人去了,永不再回!” Which literally says, "He was saying "see you again".

In this third person narrative, the narrator translated the classical term '告别'(announce departure = say goodbye) to a modern term '说再见'

It is not too big a problem, because even 荆轲 really said 再见了 instead of 别了, that just meant he didn't want to state the obvious and pretended it was a normal goodbye

永不(never) + 再回 (return again) = 永不再回 (never return again)

Does 再见 work for “goodbye forever”?

No, if you say 再见 to someone, it means you are expecting to see that person again. Although you can always pretend it is not a final goodbye and say 再见 like it is a normal goodbye.

  • To say 'goodbye forever' you have to state it clearly, like: "我们永远不会再见了" (we will never meet again)

  • You can also use '永别了' (apart forever = goodbye forever)

'永别' means '永远分别' (forever apart)

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  • IMHO, 告别 and 再见 should not be used interchangeably if the context is not appropriate. – mootmoot Dec 28 '18 at 11:18
  • @mootmoot The context compare '告别' (announce departure) with '说再见' (say "goodbye" ) -- not with '再见' which is mostly used as an proclamation. We can say "再见" on it's own or to start a sentence, but we don't say "告别" on its own or to start a sentence – Tang Ho Dec 28 '18 at 11:26
  • Indeed, I will not use the bad translation, 荆轲告别友人 is more appropriate. – mootmoot Dec 28 '18 at 11:35
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For me, 再见 translates as "See you" with an implied "again" or "au revoir" where 'again' is expresssed in the syllable 're'. 再见 is not goodbye.

goodbye: ("a contraction of God be with ye (late 14c.)") is quite literally 'God be with you', maybe with an implied 'until we meet again'.

God be with ye (goodbye) 上帝与你同在

永不再回 never to return

From an old song "I was born under a wanderin' star", in the film Paint your wagon, growled by Lee Marvin)

Heaven is goodbye forever, it's time for me to go.
对我而言,最美好的事就是“永不相见,我该走了。”

So no, 再见 couldn't mean goodbye forever, though I am sure it is used to mean 'f*** off' sometimes.

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