::every cloud has a silver lining:: @ ::天無絕人之路 ~:~ 明天會更好:: @ ::tiān wú jué rén zhīlù ~:~ míngtiān huì gènghǎo:: @ ::天無絕人之路 ~:~ 明天會更好:: @ ::tiān wú jué rén zhīlù ~:~ míngtiān huì gènghǎo:: @ ::every cloud has a silver lining::


Jul 4, 2014

ക WhyAskWhy¿ (14) An inch of time? 一寸光陰一寸金?

Time and tide waits for no man Bananaz. Gosh time flies. Tempus fugit with just a blink of an eye and half a year has gone by already since his last CNY post. An old Chinese idiom that stresses the value of time by the inch and it goes like this : ~ '一寸光陰一寸金,寸金難買寸光陰' *yī cùn guāng yīn yī cùn jīn, cùn jīn nán mǎi cùn guāng yīn* "An inch of time is worth an inch of gold; yet you can't buy an inch of time with an inch of gold." *Guāng yīn* 光陰 refers to the sun's shadow which is equivalent to time, lit. An interval of time is worth an ounce of gold, money cannot buy you time. Time is precious and must be treasured.

Why*Ask*Why time is being measured by units of length in olden China? The answer lies in the most ancient time-measuring instrument used which consists of two parts, the gnomon-and-ruler *guibiao* 圭表. The gnomon (pronounced 'noh-mon') *biǎo* 表 is the post or stone pillar standing upright on the ground to cast a shadow on the marked tablet called the ruler *guī* 圭. Since time can be measured by the length of the shadow, thus to describe the duration of time with  "inch" simply sounds logical.

image courtesy of hua.umf.maine.edu

"In the nick of time" is an English idiom for 'at the last possible moment' where a nick was a mark on a stick which was used in the past to measure time. Ancient Chinese would use 'in the inch of time' and in school we learned about seconds and hours. In this modern era the younger generation got a cool way of telling time, saying 'see you in a bit'? Any idea what to expect in years to come for the next new generation to tell time?

Jan 19, 2014

இ Horse Up 馬上

Time not only slithers time just flies. The 'Snake' would be hissing goodbye pretty soon to make way for the Horse. Bananaz wanna apologies for MIA over couple of months been busy and hectic with overseas trips. The coming Horse Year will be a very special and unique year. Based on the lunar calendar, the year of Horse will commence on 31 January 2014 and ends on 18 February 2015. So this year we will have 2 occurrence of the first solar term or 立春 *lichun* (beginning of spring) within a year which is on 4 February 2014 and 4 February 2015. This makes the Year of the Horse a 'double spring year' 双春年 *shuāng chūn nián* plus a 閏月*rùn yuè* ie a leap 9th lunar month in this year. The old folks believe this is a good omen especially for wedding ceremony and giving birth. The next double spring year will be in the year of Rooster in 2017.

What's next?

The story above on 'The Clever Old Man' reminds us NOT to mess with old people. The three panicky pretty ladies "horse up" 馬上 *mǎ shàng* jumped out of the pond immediately with lightning speed regardless of wearing nothing.  馬上 *mǎ shàng* lit. ''horse up'' means ~ at once / right away / immediately / (on horseback).

We all know most Chinese words are based on pictograph, see how the word evolved gradually comparing the top pixz with the four legs and tail and a nice mane on the head. However the traditional word for horse '馬' *mǎ* was further simplified to '马' *mǎ*.

Found something quite interesting about the U.S. Postal Service while surfing the internet. USPS (U.S. Postal Service) is honoring the Chinese culture with The "Year of the Horse" stamp, the latest in the postal service's 12-year Lunar New Year stamp series, which runs through 2019. The stamp, which features drums and a small horse in the upper left corner, "signals that fresh beginning" of a new year.

For this Horse Year the most popular idiom which would be overly mentioned is 馬到成功 *mǎ dào chéng gōng* lit. 'horse arrives, succeed' (meaning: to win instant success).  For more idioms to use during this coming CNY can refer to last year's idioms which can still be applicable other than those snakey idioms.

Here's wishing ALL A Happy & Horseperous New Year with 馬上有錢 *mǎ shàng yǒu qián* 'immediately got money' (horse back got money).

Jan 1, 2014

இ Happy 2014

Here's wishing all a very happy new year, a new year a new beginning. Today is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one. Happy 2014.

Sep 15, 2013

இ 貼錯門神 Door gods

At last the scary hungry ghost month is finally over good bye to the Do's & Don'ts and good riddance no more of those eerie and horror movies aired over  television. The ghost busters can now take a break as well as the 'Door Gods' 門神 after the closure of the Hell Gate couple of days ago. Wait a minute, could sense someone saying "heard of door knobs and door knockers before, huh what door also got gods?"

Image courtesy of TwilightZone

A 'door god' 門神 pinyin:*mén shén* is a Chinese decoration placed on each side of an entry to a temple, home, business, etc., which is believed to keep evil spirits and ghosts from entering. It all began during the Tang dynasty, when the East Water Dragon King (東海龍王) *dōng hǎi lóng wáng* came into Emperor Táng Tàizōng's (唐太宗) dream, begging for mercy to save his life as he has flouted a decree of Heaven by changing the time of the rain and reducing the amount. The Jade Emperor had ordered the execution and Wei Zheng (魏徵), Chancellor of the Tang Dynasty was assigned by Heaven to carry out the execution. On the day of the execution Emperor Tang summons Wei Zheng for a game of Go (圍棋) pinyin:*wéiqí* an hour just before the execution but not knowing Wei Zheng's soul left his body when he took a short nap during the game and ordered the execution. Despite of all his effort Emperor Tang failed to prevent the beheading of the East Water Dragon King, who misunderstood Emperor Tang did not keep up to his promise, seek revenge by haunting Emperor Tang. When Qin Qiong (秦瓊) and Yuchi Gong (尉遲恭) were called to guard the emperor's door, the emperor had a blissful sleep. The next day, the emperor, not wanting to trouble his two generals, gave orders to hang portraits of the two generals on both sides of his door. Pretty soon ordinary families adopted the imperial custom with portraits of the ever-vigilant generals on their front doors to keep away evil spirits and ghosts and to have good luck. 

image courtesy of cultural china

Special care must be taken as not to place the 'door gods' in the opposite direction. The door gods usually come in pairs, facing each other; on the left should be the portrait of Qin Qiong and Yuchi Gong's portrait to be on the right. What if they are placed wrongly probably the ghosts and evil spirits would have a hell of a swinging time as the two generals are unable to coordinate in guarding the entrance. Moreover it is considered bad luck to place the figures back-to-back. Now this brings us to a related Chinese idiom of 貼錯門神 pinyin: *tiē cuò mén shén* 'stick wrong door gods' ie not facing each other and in a back-to-back position. This applies to two persons after a heated argument cannot see eye to eye with each other and most definitely not in talking terms for days or weeks with the so called 'silent war' especially very common between couples. Here is a classic example of a 'silent war' by blogger fayjesselton who was sulking like a monster when 貼錯門神.

image courtesy of MadameNoire
Back-to-back door gods

Jul 22, 2013

இ Chinese Kinship

Two men struck up a conversation in a pub and one of them kept complaining of family problems with 同父異母 *tóng fù yì mǔ* 'same father but different mothers'. Finally the other man said: "You think you have family problems? Listen to my situation". "A few years ago, I met a young widow with a grown-up daughter, we got married and I got myself a step-daughter. Later, my father married my step-daughter. That made my step-daughter my step-mother and my father became my step-son. Also, my wife became mother-in-law of her father-in-law."

"Much later the daughter of my wife, my step-mother had a son. This boy was my half brother because he was my father's son. But he was also the son of my wife's daughter which made him my wife's grandson. That made me the grandfather of my half brother."

"This was nothing until my wife and I had a son. Now the half sister of my son, my step-mother is also the Grandmother. That makes my father, the brother-in-law of my child, whose step-sister is my father's wife, I am my step-mother's brother-in-law, my wife is her own child's aunt, my son is my father's nephew and I am my OWN GRANDFATHER!"

"And you think you have FAMILY PROBLEMS!?"

It was a pleasant Sunday morning, so nice to ��檯腳 *jaang3 toi4 goek3* 'stretch table leg' 'Cantonese: lit. stretch one's legs over the dining table legs' with Mango enjoying a simple dimsum breakfast. We noticed a family of four sitting across the next table having similarity in their facial features. Out of curiosity we 'played' Sherlock Holmes in guessing their relationship. Bingo! When the kid uttered two words, he solved the mystery for us by just calling out 叔公 *shūgōng* to the guy wearing the checked shirt. On the boy's right is his father and the older man on the far left is his grandfather and the guy at the center with checked shirt whom the kid called out as 叔公 *shūgōng* is his grandfather's younger brother aka Great Uncle.

sisters, brother, 舅 *jiù* 'uncle', 姨 *yí* 'aunt', 表 *biǎo* 'cousins'

Excerpt from Wikipedia: The Chinese kinship system (traditional Chinese: 親屬系統; pinyin: qīn shǔ xì tǒng) is classified as a Sudanese kinship system (also referred to as the "Descriptive system") used to define family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Sudanese system is one of the six major kinship systems together with Eskimo, Hawaiian, Iroquois, Crow, and Omaha. The Sudanese kinship system (and hence the Chinese kinship system), is the most complicated of all kinship systems. It maintains a separate designation for almost every one of ego's kin based on their generation, their lineage, their relative age, and their gender.

In the Chinese kinship system: Maternal and paternal lineages are distinguished. For example, a mother's brother and a father's brother have different terms. The relative age of a sibling relation is considered. For example, a father's younger brother has a different terminology than his older brother.

Bananaz Paternal lineages:
伯 *bó* dad's elder brother [paternal elder uncle]
叔 *shū* dad's younger brother [paternal younger uncle]
姑 *gū* dad's elder or younger sister [paternal aunt]
堂 *táng* dad's brothers' children (sons & daughters) [paternal cousins]

Bananaz Maternal lineages:
舅 *jiù* mom's elder or younger brother [maternal uncle]
姨 *yí* mom's elder or younger sister [maternal aunt]
表 *biǎo* mom's brother or sister's children (no seniority) [maternal cousins]

The above may be very confusing and would better stop here for the time being if not it could be stretched to a mile long and that would be even more complicated. For easier understanding the surname of each individual and age factor in terms of seniority from the paternal lineage would determine a different terminology where else for the maternal lineage surname, age and seniority does not apply.

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