A device to assist in training young Japanese to bow at the correct angle. Picture: Alamy
Lisa Lim
Opinion

Opinion

Language Matters by Lisa Lim

How ‘kowtowing’ acquired a negative connotation in English

The practice dates back to the Qin dynasty, when subjects prostrated in front of the emperor as an act of respect, but it was only after foreigners visiting China found the practice disdainful that the word came to mean ‘submissive’

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A device to assist in training young Japanese to bow at the correct angle. Picture: Alamy
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