22 April 2010

Self delusion

Hi, I saw your blog as I was searching for the answer to this question. I have a Chinese friend who once told me about something she called "aku spirit." I don't know how to spell it, and accordingly I haven't been able to find an in-depth description of what it is. She told me it was a Chinese way of thinking, in order to deal with loss of an opportunity. For example, say you lost $20 dollars; the "aku spirit" (sp) way of thinking might include telling yourself that you spent the $20 on a nice meal and you thoroughly enjoyed it, in order to cope with losing the $20 and not worrying excessively about it.

Are you familiar with this? And if so, can you describe the correct spelling/saying?


Dear Tobias

You don't give me much to work here, but I'll try.

This has been troubling me all week, in that I know how to pronounce this in Hakka and it shares a commonness (sp) with Cantonese too. This is familiar as language as my dad castigated me throughout life using this phrase but I can't actually remember the Chinese for it. And my dad isn't much help as he speaks to me in 4 different ways switching from Mandarin, to Hakka, to Cantonese to English often in single sentences.

The first thing I thought about was the work Ak, as you said Aku ~ Ak~ Ngak? which isn't correct as means to shake, hold or grip. It sounds a bloodly lot like Ak anyway but it is wrong as its usage in verbal form sounds correct but in written form isn't. ak - shau ~ to shake hands.

Which is wrong i.e. 你 (you) (shake) 我 (me). You go to a Mahjong den and somebody cheats if you say 你 (Lee) (Ak) 我 (Knor), they will understand, but if you wrote it down they would laugh at you and correct you. The word I was looking for was 阨 (ngak) which means to deceive, this is a pain in the arse word as it is a borrowed word which actually comes from 呃. which again is (ngak) which means the same thing.

Hence initially I wrote: (ak) 自(chee)己 (kay) ~ to trick oneself. But I know this is wrong, damned similar sounding words, the word I was looking for 阨 (ak)

(ak) 自(chee)己 (kay) ~ deceive oneself.

I have no idea what the spirit bit refers to I've never heard it before there is also:

對…作出解釋;為 自己- which means to justify it to yourself which is more closer to what you were looking. I.e. I justified the spending to myself which isn't quite right again.

I've got to be doing something right now so this post may well be altered and updated shortly. However I am fairly confidence that (ak) 自(chee)己 (kay) ~ deceive oneself. Is what you are looking for my dad often said 不(bat) (ak) 自(chee)己 (kay) ~ don't lie to yourself.

Continued the spirit issue, is tricky in that again subject to interpretation but what you posted to me earlier I think attitude is the correct saying

心态 psychology (sort of) (sam lay)
态度 or attitude (tai dough)



HTH (for now anyway)


  1. The correct character is 呃 not 阨. Although they have the same pronunciation and tone (ngaak/aak, first tone, Cantonese) the latter has the meaning 'to defile, or suffer hardship, misfortune, tragedy' is rare in modern standard Chinese and is used principally for its phonetic value (cf. 阨瓜多爾 Ecuador, though the initial is almost always simplified (厄), even in HK/TW). 呃 means to trick or deceive, used in principally in Cantonese (欺詐).

  2. I think the Chinese friend is trying to say

  3. Hmm 20 years living in the UK it seems have done my linguistic skills no favors.

    But Jolly good show Will & erm Korean person.