The term "DINK" and related concepts

"DINK" is a loanword from English, which is almost common knowledge, but I believe that there are significant differences in the semantics of this term between English and Chinese. This blog post will briefly discuss the concept of "DINK" in Chinese and English, as well as several related terms. It should be noted that the following content is only my personal observations and thoughts, and I am not a linguistics expert.

First, let's look at DINK in English. DINK is an acronym, so the formal writing style uses all capital letters (although capitalization doesn't matter in everyday usage). The full expression is "double income, no kids." Therefore, in English, the term DINK is only used to describe partners who both have their own jobs and do not have children. It is important to note that the term "partners" is used here because DINK is not limited to describing traditional heterosexual couples, but is applicable to any partners who meet the definition of "double income, no kids" (including same-sex partners, etc.).

However, as for the corresponding Chinese term "丁克" (DINK), its meaning has undergone some subtle extensions in recent years, which can be observed in everyday usage. I speculate that the main reason is that the individual Chinese characters that make up the Chinese term also have their own meanings, and the meanings of the characters naturally affect the term, resulting in a loss of precise correspondence between the Chinese loanword and the source word itself.

Specifically, the character "丁" means "person" (traditionally tends to represent males), for example, "男丁" (male), "添丁" (to have a child), "家丁" (household servant); while "克" means inhibition, defeat, kill, etc. When combined together and associated with the English word DINK, the Chinese term "丁克" gradually evolved into "anyone who actively chooses not to have children," regardless of whether they are single or have an income. This can be commonly seen in the Douban groups "不想 “白丁” 的丁克" and "单身丁克找伴侣". Many posters looking for partners would describe themselves as DINK, even though they may be single or have no income.

Therefore, based on the above discussion, in the current Chinese context, a single person who chooses not to have children can be called "丁克," but they do not actually meet the definition of the English term "DINK." In other words, in practical application, the definition of DINK is broader than that of "丁克".

In fact, the Chinese term "丁克" is currently closer to the English term "childfree".

The definition in the Oxford Dictionary is:

used to refer to people who choose not to have children, or a place or situation without children

This term does not have a widely accepted translation yet, so I have translated it as "自愿无子" (voluntarily childless), emphasizing the "voluntary" aspect, meaning that it is an active choice. Individuals who have the desire to have children or adopt but are forced to be unable to due to physical or economic reasons cannot be considered childfree, but belong to the broader category of childless.

The definition of childless in the Oxford Dictionary is simple:

without children

In other words, without children.

Therefore, the scope of childless is larger than that of childfree. "Childless" applies to any situation without children, without involving any subjective intention, including those who are unable to conceive due to illness or those who remain single throughout their lives... and of course, DINK.

Overall, in terms of the scope of description: childless > childfree ≈ 丁克 ≈ voluntarily childless > DINK.

Based on this discussion, I believe the following Chinese-English word correspondences can be considered when translating or conducting research:

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