I watched a Chinese documentary program, a woman told the interviewer:「我父母都沒什麼文化,所以祇能做一些低薪的勞力工作」

My reaction was "She couldn't really mean to say her parents are uncultured". Judging from the context, I think she wanted to say 「我父母都沒什麼學歷,所以祇能做一些低薪的勞力工作」 (My parents have no education, so they can only do some low-paying labor jobs

Could 文化(culture) really mean "education" in China? It couldn't in Hong Kong

5 Answers 5


No, not really.

學歷, basically means education/learning experience, or education level.
文化, which in the context, means the knowledge from education. But sometimes, "有文化" could also means civilized, and "沒文化" would mean not civilize.

Yet...as I always says here: Chinese become a stream of consciousness or even subconsciousness now days, but not really a communication tool for truth, with accuracy and logic in focus. So, eventually, it's only the context that matters.

In that case, I think people can understand those two sample sentence both.

  • 1
    like the difference between我父母都沒什麼文化(no education),所以祇能做一些低薪的勞力工 and 我父母都沒什麼文化(uncultured),上完廁所都不洗手
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 14:38
  • 教育程度低卻有文化的人和教育程度高卻沒有文化的人都是有的
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 14:46
  • Thanks for those examples. Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 15:00
  • That's bogus. Just because you don't know how to write accurately in Chinese, don't mean it can be done. Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 8:10
  • "......don't mean it can be done." Agreed. Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 11:49

學歷 generally means formally attained levels of education. 文化 is a general measure of culture, knowledge, etc. 文化 includes everything from all formal and informal channels, therefore 學歷 is part of 文化.


Yes 文化 would be education。

Be careful! Hong Kong is China. You won't get a visa for 大陆 if you say things like that in public!

  • 1
    Saying someone 沒文化 is a serious insult in Hong Kong
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 6:34
  • @TangHo I am much surprised to read the news that in Jiangsu province, the most developed area in China, there are still people in their 30s who are illiterate and unable to read and write. But some of them can pass the test of driver's license! WTF?! Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 9:26

Yes. In my opinion, 文化 here is short for 文化程度, which means 学历水平(education level), and sometimes 识字(literacy)

And 没文化 is a insult to people not only in HK but also in mainland, which sometimes actually means stupid.


With the notion, that "culture (文化)" encompasses "literacy (识字;读写)", and literacy is something attained through education, for your case, both of the sentences below convey the same idea.

  • "我父母都沒什麼文化,所以..." = "Both of my parents are illiterate (or, not well literate), so..."

  • "我父母都沒(什麼)學歷,所以..." = "Both of my parents do not have (adequate) educational backgrounds, so..."

However, 學歷/學識 will be the wrong word to use for the case below:

  • 他飯前不洗手還喜歡當眾挖鼻孔真沒文化! (在此, 文化 = 教養)

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