Environmental Design

Lost in translation

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 March, 2011, 12:00am

Fung shui texts were written in Chinese and only in the past two decades have the theories and principles been translated into English. This may have made fung shui accessible to a larger audience, but problems have arisen due to inaccurate translations. Direct translations of fung shui terms do not take into account cultural or metaphorical aspects, thus creating misunderstandings.

For instance, in the Eight Mansions school of fung shui, there are four auspicious and four inauspicious sectors. Negative sectors include the wu gui, or five ghosts, sector, but this does not mean there will be five apparitions haunting that sector. Rather it means that the energy is not conducive to harmonious interactions. The jue ming sector, which has been translated as 'loss of life' or 'total loss' does not mean someone will lose their life but rather that one has to be aware of health issues. Similarly, the liu sha (six killings) sector does not mean six individuals will meet their doom. Rather, it implies that there are various types of issue one has to be wary about in this area, such as wealth, health and harmony. Finally, the huo hai sector is self-explanatory. It is the accidents and mishaps region.