Qi is not pronounceable in English. Its whistled aspiration is not a sound found in our language. And much as we can approximate it with the “chee”, as in the beginning of “cheese”, it will forever be a curious transplant; like an exotic ornamental tree from abroad.

qiQi. In English we don’t have anything close to the idea of an overall enlivening force in nature. A connective force that blows clouds across the sky, surges currents through the ocean, directs the growth, blooming and decline of the myriad forms we recognize as Life. We don’t perceive a unified field that directs the beating of your heart and calls the tune on next week’s weather forecast.

We don’t really have a word in our language that connects the dots between your wife’s personality, the pungent taste of cinnamon, the character of the oak tree outside your breakfast window and the way snowy grey white days gentle and calm the spirit.

Qi, chee, chih, che, chi, however you wish to represent it in Latinized characters, it basically translates as “vital” or “essential” energy. Which is terribly unsatisfactory to our Western minds, as we tend to prefer Einsteinian equations of abstract proof that all Life is inextricably connected.

Let’s take a look through the Chinese dictionary and glimpse a few of the various manifestations of ? as it is expressed in some common word combinations:

chinese力氣  li qi- strength
天氣  tian qi- weather
生氣  sheng qi- angry
氣色  qi se- complexion
志氣  zhi qi- ambition
不經氣  bu jing qi- economic turndown, recession
淘氣  tao qi- mischievousness
運氣  yun qi- fortune, luck
小氣  xiao qi- miserly and mean spirited
氣短  qi duan- disappointment
語氣  yu qi- verbal attitude
氣死 qi si- infuriate
喘氣  chuan qi- asthmatic breathing
氣骨  qi gu- moral character
客氣 ke qi- politeness
勇氣 yong qi- courage
味氣  wei qi- taste, flavor

Surprising isn’t it, that 氣 shows up in so many places? So when your acupuncturist is working to “regulate your 氣” do not be too surprised if your sleep improves even though she is treating your back pain.
氣 is a profoundly connective force.