In Chinese and Vietnamese sometimes a word is made up by listing its examples. For example, “table-chair” means furniture, “month-year” means time, “land-water” means country, “spring-summer-fall-winter” means the cycle of time, “birth-old-sickness-death” means the cycle of life. Of course words for “furniture” or “time” exist, but by using “table-chair” or “month-year”, the alluded concepts are more flexible, fluid or open-ended.
For example, a chest, although is a piece of furniture, would never be considered as “table-chair” when you consider the word “table-chair” alone. But if you say you’ve bought “table-chair” for your new home, it is assumed that you’ve also bought chest, bed, fan, sofa, etc.
Some other best fruits of this:
- spring-summer-fall-winter: after spring summer will come, after winter spring will come. Seasons are just an endless circle.
- birth-old-sickness-death: even when you’re healthy like a newborn, you’ll ultimately get sickness, then get older, then die. Life is a sequence of stages.
- joy-anger-love-hate: similar to “spring-summer-fall-winter”
I think commas can be used to list them as example and then explain the concepts like I just did above.
Can native speakers feel the open-ended connotation if they read a translation of this kind of word? Can “spring, summer, fall, winter” evokes the feeling of the cycle of time in them, or is it just a list of seasons? I’m afraid that the component words are too specific so the native readers would overlook the implicitly concepts. What would be a good consideration to transfer the open-endedness in English?
I am taking a next step by putting them together:
No alter formatting
Birth old sickness death, spring summer fall winter, joy anger love hate, these stages are so vividly clear.
Birth, old, sickness, death; spring, summer, fall, winter; joy, anger, love, hate; these stages are so vividly clear.
Is it too much commas?
This phenomenon is called hyponymous juxtaposition (same type words stick together to create a cover word). The component words are called hyponyms, the cover words are called hypernyms. See What is the term for alluding to a more formless concept by listing its specific members?
My current approach to question 2 is:
Life or death, right or wrong, love or hate, all of them are so vividly clear.