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Finding an English equivalent to a Chinese idiom. [illustrated in detail]
I’m curious if the following statement can be more concise: 
“A is the reason for B, and B is the reason for A.”

In my mother tongue Chinese, there’s an idiom that describes the meaning perfectly, 互为因果, which literally meansA is both the cause and the effect of B, and vice versa”. This might sound far-fetched in English, and that’s why I want to find an English equivalent for it. It’s translated by Google into “reciprocal causation”. I received another possible answer, "mutual causation" (

What would you say? 


Let me try rephrasing my point regarding the aforementioned Chinese idiom. The idiom does not mean a paradox or any illogical way of thinking. Instead, its underlying meaning is that the cause and effect interact in such a way that they reinforce each other

Here’s an example. Let’s say A = “I’m confident in speaking English”, B = “My English speaking improves a lot”. Clearly, A can lead to B, and B can lead to A, and either one of these two causal relations can replicate itself indefinitely, like a chain, as follows (in a loophole-free manner): 

1. If we establish our “chain of causation” from A, then it’s like “I’m confident in speaking English, and thus my English speaking improves a lot, and therefore I’m [more] confident in speaking English, etc. …”
2. Similarly, if from B, it’s like “My English speaking improves a lot, and thus I’m more confident in speaking English, and therefore my English speaking improves [further] a lot, etc. …”

So that’s a lot of words :) Can you help me narrow down to a set phrase / a few words? Thanks for taking time to read through my question :P

Feb 16, 2018 5:27 AM
Comments · 5

In casual speech, you might try something like "build on each other": "Curiosity and knowledge build on each other. The more you know, the more curious you will become, and vice versa."
"Cause each other" might work: "Poverty and corruption cause each other. When one increases, so does the other."
In some cases, you might be able to anthropomorphize with "scratch each other's backs": "Education and healthcare scratch each other's backs: as a population becomes more educated, it usually becomes healthier, and healthier populations are better able to learn."

Some related concepts in formal speech:

"If and only if" means that two things imply each other, rather than cause each other.
"If a cat is in my house, it must be my cat. Since I never let my cat go outside, my cat must be in my house. That cat is my cat if and only if it is in my house."; "The Saudi economy and the oil market are closely linked. The Saudi economy will prosper if and only if the price of oil remains high." In math, logic, and computer science, "if and only if" is often abbreviated as "iff".

A "vicious cycle" or (less commonly) a "virtuous cycle" might be closer to what you want.
"The McClintoc family killed my father, so I killed one of their sons in revenge. Then they killed my mother as revenge for me killing their son. It's a vicious cycle."

"Positive feedback loops" are also in the same group: an effect amplifies its own cause.
"When the globe warms, ice melts, revealing land and water. Ice reflects most of the light that hits it, while land and water absorb light, which creates heat, accelerating global warming, which causes even more ice to melt. Positive feedback loops like this make global warming an even more intractable problem."

"are correlated" shows that things are linked without making any assumptions about causation: "Life expectancy and happiness are correlated."

February 16, 2018
I really liked your "illogical paradox" version — exactly the kind of mystery one expects to find in the mysterious East ;)

In English, I would say that they mutually reinforce (not “cause” — that would be illogical) each other. The phrase “feedback loop” would also work (as a noun). If it’s something bad, we might call it a  a vicious circle. If it’s good, we could say “a virtuous circle,” although that phrase is not so commonly used.
February 16, 2018
In mathematics, mainly in logic there is something called logical biconditional, which has a similar idea. It might be a bit more strict though, but it's a logical connection of two statements, let's say A and B and it means something like "A is true if and only if B is true". It's often denoted as A <=> B.

Lets say A = "It's raining" and B = "You are using an umbrella". In this case we can probably say that A <=> B. (Let's pretend you live somewhere where it usually doesn't snow - or let's call snowing raining as well.. In some sense it is that.)

Not sure how you can use this in everyday speech, but maybe it gives you an idea.

February 16, 2018
What about " is both the cause and result of" like "child labor is both the cause and result of poverty".
February 16, 2018

For tidiness, I'll copy my answer to the question thread here. And one more option: "interdependent" or perhaps "inextricably linked."

February 16, 2018
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English, Tibetan
Learning Language
English, Tibetan