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I think "self-confidence" and "self-esteem" are universal concepts. For example "self-confidence" is 自信 and they basically have the same meaning, the same goes to "self-esteem", which is 自尊.

But "self-respect" is a tricky concept. I remembered the first time I saw self-respect I felt confused, respect myself ? What did that mean exactly? And the more I research self-respect, the more I feel it is probably a word and a concept that Chinese language doesn't really have a counterpart, even though many online dictionaries say "self-respect" is 自重. In my opinion I don't think it is.

For example the top 3 google search result about "self-respect" are 1. Why it’s important to have self-respect in life and at work 2. 12 Ways To Show Yourself Respect 3. "10 Ways To Build Self Respect"

They all talk about "know yourself (strengths/weakness)", "learn to say no", "learn your boundaries", etc. I am not saying these are THE definitions of self-respect but on the other hand the fact that the top 3 google search results basically talk about the similar concepts did say something about the meaning and concept of self-respect.

I definitely agree "context is the key for interpretation" so if I google "self-respect at work" as workplace is where self-respect is mentioned a lot, the top result is "The Importance of Self-Respect at Work". The article also talks about "Set and Enforce Boundaries", "Push Back Politely", "Respect Yourself by Putting Your Weaknesses in Context", "Trust Yourself"

The similar concepts again and those concepts are not 自重! Of course Chinese language have all those concepts. But I am saying there does NOT seem to be a single word like "self-respect" to combine those ideas together.

--- update ----

I check an Chinese-English dictionary https://www.zdic.net/hans/%E8%87%AA%E9%87%8D and there are 2 definitions for 自重, the first is "conduct oneself with dignity; be self-dignified" and the second is "be self-respect". I think those are good definitions for 自重. But the knowing-yourself part of self-respect is not included. I also feel that part is 自知

I add this update because through the responses and the further research I did I feel I have figured it all out so I updated my question as part of my own answer to this question.

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    Context is the key for interpretation. self-respect can be 自尊 in some context IMO.
    – dan
    Oct 11 at 10:51
  • I rephrased my question to make my point clearer. Oct 12 at 2:39
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    You might be too techy in this case.
    – dan
    Oct 12 at 5:27
  • Yeah I am a software engineer. Also, I was surprised to see one answer said "I was thinking, Chinese have no concept of self-respect". Why would someone had that thought after reading my question?! So I updated it. Oct 12 at 5:38
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Both 自尊 and 自重 mean "self-respect", however, depending on the usages, there are slight differences in meaning. The former is heavily associated with "personal pride" and the latter emphasis more on "value and restraint". The sentences below show the uses of each and the differences.

  • 人沒有了自尊就沒有了一切. - Without self-respect, "one has lost everything" or "one has nothing left".

  • 先要會自尊才會尊重他人. - Know about self-respect first, then one would know to respect others.

  • 你傷了他的自尊. - You hurt his feeling (of pride).

  • 你的自尊在哪兒? = 你的自尊到哪去了? (他的自尊被狗吃了!) - Where is your pride/self-respect? (His pride/self-respect was eaten by a dog = He lost his pride/self-respect to a lower living thing).

  • 人貴自知和自重. - A person is valued by these two traits: "know the capability/strength of oneself and know self-respect/self-restraint/the boundary of personal conduct".

  • 不要看輕自己要自重. - Do not look down on yourself, you shall weigh/value yourself more.

  • 請自重. - Please behave yourself or please be respectful. Note, this phrase is used when the subject person exhibits unruly behavior or is conducting an act that is deemed unacceptable by social norms and moral standards. Example uses are 1) to stop an unruly passenger on a bus, and 2) to stop an undesirable advancement from one person towards another, such as a man dirty talk to a female colleague, or touching a woman's body without permission.

ADD:

  • "自尊" - 尊重(respect)自己(self).

  • "自重" - 重視(highly regard)自己(self),知分寸(know boundary),不逾越(behave).

  • "Respect" - 尊敬;尊重;esteem; regard.

Sometimes, it is difficult to find direct matching words between English and Chinese, but for this case, if nothing of the above means self-respect, then I don't really know what you are looking for or expecting.

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  • All of your example except for the last one are more about self-esteem, while the last one is "please behavior yourself". Oct 12 at 2:04
  • @Qiulang邱朗 Thanks for hinting the last example. It is a good one.
    – r13
    Oct 12 at 2:33
  • I rephrased my question to make my point clearer. Oct 12 at 2:40
  • @Qiulang邱朗 It is correct, as I've stated in the beginning, 自尊 and 自重 both have the meaning of self-respect, the slight differences are difficult to detect, but I think you know well that in all example sentences, 自尊 and 自重 are not exchangeable for each other, though their meanings are very close.
    – r13
    Oct 12 at 2:49
  • See if you have new thought about my updated question. lol Oct 12 at 2:50
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1, "Self-respect" and "self-esteem" are quite similar and related even in English. Definitions of "self-esteem" by major dictionaries:

American Heritage Dictionary 5th:

Pride in oneself; self-respect.

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 2015:

a confidence and satisfaction in oneself : self-respect

World Book Dictionary, 2015:

the thinking well of oneself; self-respect.

新牛津英汉双解大词典:

confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect 自信; 自尊

Collins English Dictionary, 2015:

respect for or a favourable opinion of oneself

2, Many concepts don't have exact counterparts in other languages. However, in this case, 自尊 in Chinese is close enough to "self-respect" and "self-esteem" in English. r13's answer gives you many good examples. (I upvoted that answer.)

Some other possible words (similar and related in meaning, each with its own nuances, for you to choose depending on the context: 自尊心, 自信心, 自爱, 自我尊重

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  • I added an update after seeing r13's new edit. Oct 12 at 15:14
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  • The more I look at "self-respect", the more I feel it is a word and a concept that Chinese language doesn't really have a counterpart.

First of all, this is a sweeping statement. When I first read this, I was thinking, do you mean Chinese have no concept of self-respect? Or do you mean Chinese do not know how to respect themselves? And what do you mean by self-respect anyway?

As I read on, you seemed to have adopted the following as your definition of self-respect.

  • "Be honest about who you are and who you aren't." or "Don't let other people define your boundaries."

But may I ask why you think these are good definitions of self-respect? How about self-respect meaning you don't do things that may tarnish your reputation? Is that not self-respect? How about self-respect meaning you know the difference between you and others and not let others force those differences onto you? My point is, self-respect isn't just one concept that can be easily defined, even within a single language, let alone doing it across languages. Taking a couple of definitions from some psychologists, or pop psychologists, and then drawing the conclusion that a certain culture does not have that concept, to me, seems a bit presumptuous, to say the least.

Lastly, I totally agree with dan's comment regarding context. A word, even a very easily defined word, can be different when translated. If words can be so neatly mapped onto another language without context, then we can all learn a second language by memorizing bilingual dictionaries. Who would need a language teacher? So, kindly provide a context if you wish to discuss the meaning of certain words. Once you do that, I am sure a lot of helpful volunteers here will be more able to share their knowledge and experience.

Back to your original question, 自尊 and 自重 can definitely work in certain contexts, and with a wider scope of definition for the word "self-respect".

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  • I rephrased my question to make my point clearer. Oct 12 at 2:39

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