Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 131

Full Length Research Paper

The meaning of the Chinese cultural keyword xin

Jing Li*, Christer Ericsson and Mikael Quennerstedt
School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 03 April 2013
  •  Published: 31 July 2013


In China, the word, xin 心 (often translated as ‘heart’) is frequently used and its concept is central to Chinese culture. However, its meaning is not exactly the same as ‘heart’ in English. Using qigong as the context, this article aims to explore the meaning of xin as a cultural keyword in order to gain an in-depth understanding of Chinese culture and knowledge within that cultural system. Qigong is a Chinese health maintenance system and healing tradition which integrates physical activity with training of the mind and self-cultivation. One of qigong’s basic components is xin adjustment. It is impossible to convey the full meaning of this concept without understanding the meaning of xin. In Chinese culture, xin is the root of physical and mental life. It is the seat of all emotions, and embodies the inherent goodness of human nature and wisdom. Xin helps to guide the individual’s way of life and attitude, and can lead one to deep contentment.


Key words: xin xin, Chinese heart, cultural keyword, natural semantic metalanguage (NSM), qigong, heart adjustment.