10

体面{たいめん} = honor; dignity; prestige; reputation; appearances
面目{めんぼく} = face; countenance; honor; reputation; prestige; dignity

As individual words they seem to be almost the same, is there any difference I need to be aware of? I'm especially curious how the phrases they are used in distinguish their meanings.

For example, the construct ~を保つ exists for both 体面 and 面目 but do the phrases
体面を保つ and 面目を保つ
have meanings that are as similar as the words by themselves or do differences in meaning and usage become apparent?

The reason I think differences may appear is because of the difference in the verbs used with each of these words.

(All of the following are 体面を・面目を+VERB from the NINJAL corpus; excluded some at my own discretion for brevity; attempted to group them by concept 仲間外れがあれば、自由に修正してください。)

Same for both 体面 and 面目
保つ
守る
重んじる
損なう
失う

Unique to 体面
気にする・思いやる
汚す・捨てる
維持する・繕う
表す
与える

Unique to 面目
施す
一新する・改める・回復する・取り返す
高める・立てる
潰す・失わす・欠く
示す・見せる
発揮する・主張する・貫く
うかがう

So what I noticed is that while both 体面 and 面目 are important, to be protected, and can be lost, only 面目 has positive words like 一新する・改める・回復する・取り返す・高める・立てる associated with it, while with 体面 the best you can do is 維持する・繕う。

With 体面, you 気にする・思いやる it, but with 面目, you 示す・見せる・発揮する・主張する・貫く it.

I'm not sure how clear this is, but there seems to be an intrinsic, significant difference between these words that a dictionary can't express. That's what I'm trying to get to the bottom of.

1

体面 is what other people feel about person.
面目 is what person feels about himself/herself.

体面 is what PR-activity creates. It is so called "personal brand".
面目 is feeling yourself a human, not an animal.

体面 is respect and authoriy in eyes of other people.
面目 is self-respect in person's own eyes.

体面 is public matter.
面目 is private matter.

体面 can mean nothing to person's emotions.
面目 is about emotional state of a person.

There are people for whom 体面 and 面目 are deeply connected. When there is some damage to their public brand, that is to 体面, they feel, that it creates damage to their 面目. These people are usually called honest or man of honor. For example, samurais were men of honour, that means if they got damage to their 体面 they must kill themselves. In Russia and in Europe 150 years ago, if somebody hurts your 体面, you have a right to challenge this person to a duel and to kill him (or to be killed).

But there are also people for whom 体面 and 面目 are not connected at all or slightly connected. When there is some damage to their public brand, that is to 体面, they feel, that it creates no damage to their 面目.

Let's take stackexchange for example.
When you post a question or an answer you might get minuses, many-many minuses and your post gets red. That is damage to your 体面. For example, when I write these words, I have 320 points of my public reputation on stackexchange. So 体面 can be mesured in points, in number of subscribers at your youtube channel or in amount of money you earn.

But would you feel, that minuses on stackexchage hurt your feelings?
If yes, then you have damage to 面目.
If no, then you have no damage to 面目.

People, who can not get damage to their 面目 also can be called shameless.
No matter what happens to them, they do not feel shame at all, but they can get damage to their personal brand, that is to their 体面.

Damage to 体面 is when people hate you, when people around you decided that you are a bad person and you should be punished/banned/forgotten/fired/etc.

  • 1
    Both 面目 and 体面 aren’t so common words in daily conversations. But 面目ない and 体面を保つ are often heard. – Yamacure Oct 12 at 15:29
-1

As in the comment, 「体面を保つ」and 「面目ない」are common phrase. Let's analyze how it works.

If CEO of the company does not wear suits and goes to an important meeting wearing T-shirt, normally you "can not save your face" :「体面を保てない」 as CEO since CEO has such a social status that they are expected to be seen as such. It is talking about more of ambience. It's like face-value or a package of product.

If CEO of the company did the presentation of their product and could not appeal to the market, they might feel「面目ない」to stakeholders such as employees or shareholders. So the phrase is used when the reputation and expectation actually really matters to the environment.

Thus,「面目」is used in a situation which is more sensible and to be bona-fide than「体面」.

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