Weighed in the balance and found offering

論功行賞
ron.kou.kou.shou

Literally: discourse – achievement – conduct – reward

Alternately: Awarding honors, prizes, or praise based on someone’s work and achievements. The meritocratic ideal.

Notes: This phrase comes to us from the “Book of Wei” in the Records of the Three Kingdoms (Japanese 『三国志』 = Sangokushi), a massively influential history of, well, the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history. The four-character compound can be expanded to (or simply read in kanbun style as) 功を論じ賞を行う (kou wo ronji shou wo okonau), which neatly illustrates the way in which it is a compound of compounds: 論功 is “discuss the merits,” and 行賞 is “carry out rewards / awards.”

Despite how intuitive this may seem, some people may trip up on the doubled sound and write the final koushou as 功賞; this is an error.

While a bit more focused, this phrase is considered synonymous with 信賞必罰.

 
Punk dude, preppie dude, glam dude

A scene (of an award ceremony, presumably) from the manga Kingdom

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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