blues..

blues..
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Feb 1, 2010

ക TELLING THE TIME : Colloquial

Most of the time I would like to dig right through deeply to "Why Ask Why" on certain mundane words that we used. I wonder why we Chinese say " 等一下 {děng yī xià} ~ wait one time " the equivalent to English's "wait a minute". In the olden Chinese ghost movies if you can recall there is this time keeper who walks around the town after midnite holding a lantern, a gong and a log of bamboo. He will beat the bamboo a few times followed by the gong a few times. Just out of curiosity how on earth this time keeper knows the time to tell the time? Most probably from the astronomical clock built by Su Song & Han Gong-Lian in 1088 A.D. during the Northern Song Dynasty. Hope anyone can be kind enough to post the answer on how the 一下 {yī xià} came into being. Could it be the word {yī xià} derives from the striking the bamboo or the gong?


It is a known fact that advertisers for all clocks or watches would mainly and mostly focused the time at 10 past 10 so that you get a smile on the face. So in colloq Chinese it's 十点兩个字 {shí'diǎn liǎng ge zì} [10 dot & 2 number]. There is nothing wrong as it is widely accepted and spoken all over the country since day one until I had the opportunity to meet a Taiwanese colleague who was assigned to Malaysia for a year. While sorting out dinner arrangement and said to pick him up at 6:15pm 六点三个字 {liù diǎn sān ge zì} [6 dot & 3 number] he had a shock and asked me what is the exact time. Huh no one has ever corrected me on this before. He explained back home his version would be 六点十五分 {liù diǎn shí'wǔ fēn}. 6:30pm would be 六点三十分 {liù diǎn sān shí'fēn} or 六点半 {liù diǎn bàn}. So there is this joke we often played on each other when we wanted to say 7.00pm we would chuckled 六点十二个字 {liù diǎn shí' èr ge zì} [6:60pm ~ 6 dot & 12 number]

Blunder #5: When I was referring to hotel I said 客栈 {kèzhàn} which is merely an inn or guest house. Correct version should be 酒店 {jiǔdiàn} or 饭店 {fàndiàn} which can be very confusing for bananaz as its 'liqour' shop or 'rice' shop?

Emoticon Banana

27 Bunchesஇ:

Kelvin said...

" - 点兩个字" is for older gen...they don't know wat is the time called so they count the no. of numbers on the clock.

fufu said...

六点十二个字 what a morning joke =p hohohoho

Pete said...

Informative! Let's go yam seng at Jiudian! LOL!

Bananazക said...

Kelvin ക thanks old folks sure got their ways. TQ

fufu ക haha glad it brightened your morning. TQ

Pete ക very 'keng' yam char in Jiudian {wine shop} haha. TQ

Rose Belle said...

No idea how the time keeper kept track of time. I hope someone will post the answer! I want to know too.

As for how you would say 6:15pm 六点三个字 {liù diǎn sān ge zì}, the first time I heard someone saying it, I was confused too. I didn't understand it so I asked what did the person mean "sān ge zì". I think Chinese has too many slangs and ethnic short cuts, like Hong Kong people, I have a hard time understanding them in conversation.

Will be checking back on this post. Hope someone knows the answer!

Autumn Belle said...

Hahaha.
Q1 - maybe timekeeper used an hour glass or he looked at the position of the sun during the day and moon/shadows at night?

As I know there are 12 chinese hours to a day, which begins at 11:00pm. Midnight is halfway and the gong fella will strike 3 times when he goes on his rounds. To understand this, look at what the fengshui masters use.

Before they invented the digital clock, we used analog clocks. I always finds it easier to remember time the face of a wall clock which has 12 numbers. So, just look at the clock and tell the time from 1 to 12 numbers, no need to calculate in multiples of 5. The listener also doesn't need to convert back in his mind. See? Fast and easy. For those people who think in terms of digital time, maybe they don't like this method. Anyway they are okay with 13:00 as the thirteenth hour. In chinese shi san dian (13 O'clock) would mean a person who is gila-gila or has gone cuckoo or bananas.
:)

CH Voon said...

I also don’t know what yi xia.. hehehe
I cannot derive this for you.
I think both method can be apply either
六点三个字 or 六点十五分
Nothing wrong right.

iamthewitch said...

LOL You know that time I went to China, I spoke to a chinese guy, to meet up at 4.10pm, and I said, shi dian liang ge zi, and he looked at me, asking me what that meant!

Mei Teng said...

I believe the Mandarin spoken here differs from that in China. Same with Cantonese. Some words used here makes no sense to someone from HK.

jingle said...

very impressive discussions.
It depends on what kind of language one speaks...
misunderstandings occur when one plays little tricks while the other has No clue..
have FUN.

William Manson © 2010 said...

fascinating post friend, you use a lot of realism in your posts and thats why I like reading them nice to see you on my blog :)

cleffairy said...

*pening pening pengsan* I am so banana! Dun understand!

[SK] said...

well there's actually no right or wrong, but different region has different terms or way of saying something..

the 幾點幾 is more to dialects outside mandarin.. as for hotels, it can be 酒店, 飯店, 旅館, 旅店 etc..

Bananazക said...

Rose Belle ക Still no answer yet am waiting too haha TQ

Autumn Belle ക hour glass or moon watching very interesting. Yeah heard fengshui they combined two hours to be one hour. Appreciate your explanation still blur though. Haha 13 O'clock relates to cuckoo. TQ

CH Voon ക Will let you know when I find out the answer. TQ

Mei Teng ക Different countries would have their slang and Hong Kong Cantonese sure differs from here for example for raining Malaysian way is 'lok sui' and HongKong's 'lok yee'haha. TQ

jingle ക very common would be chicken and duck talk lol. TQ

William Manson © 2010 ക thanks you might take a while to understand more Chinese haha. TQ

cleffairy ക sorry lah learning Chinese/Mandarin the hard way for you, hang in maybe can grasp some later on. TQ

[SK] ക Agreed no right or wrong as long as someone can understand you in Malaysia it's still OK. Ooops [SK]what's that in Chinese? Reminds me of a case when I wanted to order porridge in KL and asked the owner what porridge he has and he replied its all written on the top of the stall. *Ooops I can't read Chinese* haha. TQ

jingle said...

10Q for the wisdom and time shared and devoted,

Happy Thursday.
cheers, ;)

Bananazക said...

jingle ക thanks to you too for the fun and haiku, poems etc.

reanaclaire said...

hi there.. though i am a "banana" i must say i like that clock u displayed.. can i copy paste it? got copyright or not? :)

Bananazക said...

reanaclaire ക its copy left haha. Can get it from google gadget kindly click on the clock for the link.:)

CH Voon said...

chinese new year coming soon.

i hope i am the first one wish you..

Happy Chinese New year 2010.

P/S: i am not kiasu or kiasi... just give you a early greeting only.

CH Voon said...

chinese new year coming soon.

i hope i am the first one wish you..

Happy Chinese New year 2010.

P/S: i am not kiasu or kiasi... just give you a early greeting only.

jingle said...

Have A Cool Weekend.
U R Cool,
Did U C
What I C?
(did you see what I see?)

hahaha

Bananazക said...

CH Voon ക Happy Chinese New Year glad you are home early. TQ

jingle ക you have a fantastic weekend with your super bowl game. Cool! TQ

Rose Belle said...

Autumn Belle made an interesting point about using the sun and moon shadow. Come to think of it, many ancient civilizations do depend on the stars, moon, and the sun to guide them. The gong man would need to wait for the sun to set and then the moon to set in a particular point in the sky to determine the time of night. I don't know...ancient people were just brilliant people. The were able to build and invent things with their bare hands and naked eyes.

foongpc said...

Haha! I understand what is liu dian san ge zi cos I talk like that in Cantonese which is "luk tim sam go zhi".

But in Mandarin, most people won't say "liu dian san ge zi", but "liu dian shi wu fen".

That's the differences between Mandarin and Cantonese and some Cantonese words cannot be translated word by word to Mandarin cos it'll sound funny!

foongpc said...

Actually "deng yi xia" is not wait one time, but wait a moment : )

foongpc said...

LOL to 六点十二个字 !!

foongpc said...

Yeah, I also wonder why jiudian is hotel? It sure sounds like liqour shop to me, haha!

 
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