In recent decades the concept of 'face' has become an issue of key concern to many researchers from a vast array of fields, ranging from sociolinguistics to management studies. Recently, some scholars have begun to consider the universal relevance of 'face', and a debate has emerged as to whether we can declare 'face' a cultural universal or whether we should temper claims of universality in consideration of so-called culture-specific phenomena such as Chinese mian and lian. While much of the work that has been carried out into Chinese mian and lian and English face has been exemplary, there is a need for a deeper understanding of the concepts. In spite of a few social scientific studies, there has not yet been an in-depth discussion of the culturespecific, emic nature of Chinese mian and lian and English face. Very little empirical work has been done that is based on data collected from representative works in written materials such as Chinese- and English-language literature, and few studies have asked native speakers what they consider the meaning of Chinese mian and lian and English face to be. This study examines the semantic content of Chinese mian and lian and English face on the basis of how they are used in everyday social interaction. Most researchers have advanced the assumption that 'face' can be used for describing human behaviour in all cultures. However, an investigation of the emic nature of Chinese mian and lian and English face suggests that 'face' is too narrow a mould in which to cast an explanation for proposed universals of human behaviour. Based on ethnographic and literary data collected in China and Australia, this study argues that an important initial step in determining the universal relevance of concepts such as Chinese mian and lian and English face is to ascertain the emic characteristics that distinguish them from one another. This thesis begins with an explanation of how Chinese mian and lian came to be known as 'face' in English. It then analyses the culture-specific aspects of Chinese mian and lian as they appear in various indigenous expressions, and details a comparison between the use of mian and lian in Modem Standard Chinese and the use of face in English. In doing so, this thesis hopes to provide an initial step toward an empirically-grounded knowledge of the meanings of Chinese mian and lian and English face a step that has the potential to bring us closer to a clearer understanding of the cross-cultural relevance of other peoples' judgments about the self.