Learn English – When there stand two things, we call they stand “in parallel,” what do you call three or more things stand “in triangle”


We have a word, “並立 – heiritsu” meaning “to stand / line up in parallel” and “鼎立 – teiritsu” meaning “to stand on three foot facing each other” in Japanese.

For example we say “三者鼎立 – three parties coexist or stand against each other,” when we describe three big countries of England, France and Germany go their own way or stand against each other.

What is the English word to describe “presence of three or more parties on their own way” as an alternative to “in parallel” for two parties?

Let me clarify my point:

My question lies on the point – the phrase “並立‐in parallel” applies to two straight lines facing each other keeping the same distance on both ends, but the word “parallel” wouldn’t apply to the lines linking three points that forms an equilateral triangle, then how we should call the status of three points / lines combining each other in the state which we call “鼎立” both in Japanese and Chinese using the same characters and different pronuciation (teiritsu in Japanese, dingli in Chinese), in English”?

There should be the concept and word equivalent to “鼎立” vis a vis “並立" in Engllish. What will it be?

Best Answer

Based on clarification in the comments, I believe that 並立 and 鼎立 can be reasonably translated to an established English phrase: "To stand as equals."

This is a phrase that can be ascribed to rivals, colleagues, enemies etc. and can contrast with "standing above" or "standing below" in which height or vertical position is a metaphor for status.

For example, one might say that at the outset of the Democratic Primary, Hillary Clinton appeared to stand above Bernie Sanders, but he has since proven that he can stand as an equal with her.

Some meaning is lost in that 鼎立 seems to refer to two peers who stand above all others, but in context it is often implied that this is the case. And of course "standing as equals" does not specify a number, though it is most often referring few parties.

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