素质

Pronounced: sùzhì
Literally: quality
Means: This is the word I often hear used to describe what’s lacking in a person or in China’s general population, e.g. “Their 素质 is too low” or “In your country people have higher 素质”, often in reference to people’s ‘uncivilized’ behaviour like causing unnecessary traffic jams with their selfish driving habits. Makes me cringe a bit when I hear people use it; flatly ascribing more or less quality to people, as if they’re mere products on a store shelf, feels a little too close to ascribing value to be comfortable.

Leave a Reply!