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May 11, 2010

ക WhyAskWhy¿ (03) Buy East-West ~ 買東西 [mǎi dōngxī]

Ever wonder why in Mandarin when we say go to supermarket to buy things its 'buy East-West' ~ 買東西 [mǎi dōngxī]? Buying a 'direction' huh! If that is the case why not buy South North 買南北 [mǎi nánběi] instead of 'buy East West' 買東西 [mǎi dōngxī]? Thankz to lǎoshī Jeannie for shedding a light on Why*Ask*Why. There are many different versions and answers for this question. Her most favorite one is: In Tang dynasty, the capital Chang'an is the most populous city at the time. Business men all over the world went to Chang'an for trading. The markets were at the east and west of the city, over time, people say 買東西.[mǎi dōngxī] literally means buying East- West or things.





In the past Bananaz was facing a tough time to synchronize the Chinese and English on the four directions and always take 東 [dōng] as North and cannot fully comprehend sunrise and sunset in Chinese when East & West got me totally confused. In English when it comes to direction we start from North  and clockwise down NorthEastSouthWest but in Chinese, East comes first  therefore its EastSouthWestNorth ~ 東南西北 [dōng nán xī běi]. Have you heard of this greetings "what wind brings you here in Chinese? Common, usual and most expected answer sure to be ESWN wind ~ 東南西北風 [dōng nán xī běi fēng]. To add on, in English the direction would be North South but in Chinese its *South North* so the name North South Highway when spoken/written in Chinese will read South North Highway 南北大道 [nánběi dà dào].





EM Banana dancing

80 Bunchesஇ:

eugene said...

This is such a revelation to me,never knew 东西, can be explained in such detail,,, thank you once again.

appreciate it

Tekkaus said...

Wow....so that is why it is called dong xi? :p

Kelvin said...

Seriously, i never think of this before~

Bananazക said...

eugene ക you are most welcome. have a great day. tQ.

CH Voon said...

cool! so far i never realise this hehehe. look like i can join u as bananaz as well.

can i join ur group? call me banana voon

Bananazക said...

Tekkaus ക this is one of the version and I was shock on the words ~ East West? Hakka would be the closest sounded the same "mai dong xi" where else Canto "mai yeah" and Hokkien "boey make kia". tQ.

Bananazക said...

Kelvin ക yeah most would not want to know, think not important or some take things for granted but for me as Bananaz always curious Why*Ask*Why. haha. tQ

Bananazക said...

CH Voon ക lol banana Voon? others can join bananaz club but not you coz you like durian so go to durian club please haha. tQ

[SK] said...

oh, thanks for the info on why we call buying things 買東西.. but 東西 doesn't necessarily mean the merchandise we bought, it can be anything.. so how do you explain this in such context then??

[SK] said...

in Chinese we say 東南西北, starting with East and counterwise ending at North.. but in English we say North-South-East-West, jumping here and there.. haha!!

[SK] said...

東南西北風?? hmmm, have anyone used that term before?? i thought normally it would be 西北風?? something that you "eat"?? hahaha~~

Jingle said...

what beautiful reflections!
Happy Tuesday!

Wenny Yap said...

I'm confused already! That's why learning Chinese seem very complicated to me. Luckily I send my son to Chinese school so that he can be the interpreter for his 'Banana' parents ... kakaka!

Caroline Ng May Ling said...

like dat oso can. *cham* and kinda lame lor. lol!

Caroline Ng May Ling said...

btw, about those direction. if u ask me, i only can tell u correctly in english and chinese. haha! if in malay, get zero for sure. hahaha!

smallkucing said...

interesting . Never thought of that

Bengbeng said...

this is interesting.. i never this..amazing .. the origin of phrases

Gratitude said...

Seriously, i think i was affected by too much tv watching coz i alwiz thought looking east-west was similar to greedy people looking left to right especially when there are great bargains all around them LOLZ!

Thanks for the explanation. :)
+Ant+

Bananazക said...

[SK] ക my only guess 東西 represent a vast spectrum of goods just like when we say go 'shopping' it can equal to 'dongxi' which is not specific as yet. What say you sifu?

You're kidding me? English no jumping lah bro it NESW haha.

No lah.. I may be Bananaz but know this three words eat 西北風 not a good one leh. Since on this topic why 西北風 and not other direction? why*Ask*Why again lol. Fengshui kah? haha.. tQ.

Bananazക said...

Jingle ക getting the bearings correct for a great reflections. tQ.

Bananazക said...

Wenny Yap ക that's the direct opposite of my papa's intention of sending me to English school so that can read his biz letters for him. haha. tQ.

Bananazക said...

Caroline ക you dari timur tak selalu cakap Melayu biasa tentu boleh hilang and tak ingat Bananaz pun cacak juga haha. tQ.

Bananazക said...

smallkuching ക glad you learned something new purr-fectly haha. tQ.

Bananazക said...

Bengbeng ക could be a blessing in disguise if Bananaz is a *mango* maybe not that nosy to find out haha. tQ

reanaclaire said...

sorry.. no understand but i think u r talking about east and west.. not yin yang right?

Bananazക said...

Gratitude ക oh yeah looking 'East- West' is also looking at 'things' instead of buying too glad you brought this up. haha left to right..tQ.

Bananazക said...

reanaclaire ക in Cantonese we say go to buy things is 'mai yeah'. In Mandarin 'mai yeah' is 'mai dong xi' which is 'buy East-West'. [dong = East] and [xi = West] Got it? ~;) tQ.

wenn said...

wow, i love the way u analyse things! btw, thx for giving further details abt the Great Stupa.

Alice Law said...

LOL... I heard of it when I was schooling, nice sharing though!

Btw, was it true ar?^-^

have a nice day ahead!

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

I'm still at beginner's level for Mandarin. Need loads of tuition:(

Pete said...

Nowadays, ladies go shopping North South East West.....jalan until leg cramp....LOL!

Meichun Jones (Jeannie) said...

You are welcome, Bananaz. Awesome post! Great image about the direction. It's helpful when you add graphic to help your explanation. I saw you added some cool stuff, I'll have to come back to check them out. Love those bananas playing instrument...did you make them?

Bananazക said...

wenn ക thankz for the encouragement sorry I went ahead in giving the details of the Great Stupa should ask your permission first.:) tQ.

Bananazക said...

Alice Law ക the word for 買東西.[mǎi dōngxī] is true its the exact words but different versions of how the name came about. There is one version which has something to do with fengshui that is why [mǎi dōngxī]was chosen. ~;) tQ.

Bananazക said...

Keats ക can slow slow come to learn together the hearsay way ~;) tQ.

Bananazക said...

Pete ക haha NSEW star shopping for the ladies. tQ

Bananazക said...

Meichun Jones (Jeannie) ക my dear laoshu missing your post already and hope you can come on back soon. Those animations of bananaz dancing are not mine all downloaded from internet. tQ.

iamthewitch said...

Ehh... I was JUST wondering about the origins of this 'dong xi' term a few days ago... and you helped me solve the mystery! :) Thank you! :)

bluedreamer27 said...

wow i was amazed how you explain the origin of that quote

bluedreamer27 said...

you did well on this job... Cheers!

bluedreamer27 said...

though some sounds jargon to me... specially the chinese terms... but you make it easier for me to understand thanks a lot

bluedreamer27 said...

have a great day and happy blogging bananaz

mNhL said...

Aaa...I'm always being confused by the N,S,E,W too......complicated.

Cloudia said...

Thank you, scholar.



Aloha from Hawaii


Comfort Spiral

Ghosty Nana said...

Now I know why are is call banana. Have you wonder why you are not called papaya or durian?

Bananazക said...

iamthewitch ക what perfect timing haha. tQ.

Bananazക said...

bluedreamer27 ക hope one day our pinoy friend can understand some Chinese haha. Happy blogging too. tQ.

Bananazക said...

mNhl ക oh you face the same complication in the sequence as well. tQ.

Bananazക said...

Cloudia ക thankz, Aloha. tQ.

Bananazക said...

Ghosty Nana ക no idea leh why ah not papaya or durian? Please tell Bananaz. tQ.

suituapui said...

Huh? Feng shui kah? I only know tong-nan-zi-pei...in mahjong though I do not play! LOL!!

Bananazക said...

suituapui ക you make my day with your tong-nan-zi-pei mahjong hahaha..tQ.

fufu said...

yeah PLUS!!! i didnt realise that it is south north highway until i read this... hahaha

Bananazക said...

fufu ക seems English and Chinese will have different directions. What about direct translation word for word? North South Highway 北南大道 [běi nán dà dào] pleasant to the ears??? haha tQ.

Jingle said...

you always educate us!

Jingle said...

http://itistimetothinkformyself.blogspot.com/2010/05/jingles-may-follower-award-week-2.html

Happy Wednesday!

James Oh said...

Great and meaningful article. Now only I know why.

Bananazക said...

Jingle ക learning is about sharing, the more you share the more you learn ~;) tQ.

Bananazക said...

James Oh ക thankz for dropping by with kind words, now you know why Bananaz like to why*ask*why..haha. tQ.

Mei Teng said...

I have to admit I don't know the meaning buy east west. Have heard of the saying though.

MODERN ROBINSON CRUSOE said...

Hey nice one - I dont' know it was derived from that until now :-D

Bananazക said...

Mei Teng ക buying things = buying East-West in Chinese. Will take a while.. tQ.

Bananazക said...

Modern Robinson Crusoe ക now we all know about it. yes! tQ.

CH Voon said...

er... you delete my comment ar!

what 東西 make you delete my comment??

haiya.... i forget what 東西 i comment liao. mmmm

Bananazക said...

CH Voon ക your comment is up there ah and you're asking to join banana club mah. what 東西 its what 東東 you have missed the comment? haha. tQ

Bananazക said...

CH Voon ക you just brought up a good point as 東西 can mean quite a lot of things though. tQ.

RoseBelle said...

Okkkaaayy..I hope no one laughs at my response here. I thought the four directions are labeled the same in all parts of the world. Never knew there was a difference. My coworkers, I mean the ones that are literate in idioms and highly complicated sentence phrases would laugh (in a nice way) at my Chinese because I would interpret them wrong sometimes. One time, my coworker said a 4 word idiom "salty fish lived again". I was like "you're having salted fish for lunch?" She laughed and said "noooo..can a dried salty fish live again? no right? But when it happens, it's the impossible that happens." She was referring to a manager who was told he will be laid off and then a week later, the company told him he won't lose his job.

khengsiong said...

Then why Cantonese say mai ye?

Bananazക said...

RoseBelle ക yeah haha about impossible this is another common one which I learned from Chinese movie, where the father agrees to his daughter's marriage unless the sun rises from the 西West. When I heard this would try to figure out where is 東East and where is 西West then to ask after the movie as all the time thought 東 is North according to English way *sigh* what a confusion haha. tQ

Bananazക said...

khengsiong ക that's is a very good question which Bananaz have asked before. Heard the Canto *mai ye* is colloquial. In Canto we say *ping kor?* for [Who?] there is no official word instead its 什麼人 or 誰who? Same applies to *meet ye*[what?] or Hakka *mak kai*. Hope Bananaz is correct up to this point with my hearsay learning. According to MDBG dictionary 什麼 {shénme} stands for what? / who? / something / anything. tQ.

HappySurfer said...

Whoa, Bananaz, you are quite a linguist wor, knowing so many dialects. "Mai tung xi" in Cantonese would be something like "mai tung xai". Sounds weird. Mak kai wah? LOL! Language is so interesting. Nice post. Thanks for the laughs..

Bananazക said...

Where got! where got! in Mandarin is 哪裡 *nǎlǐ, nǎlǐ* haha. Bananaz only 'tai chek kong' know little bit here and there Canto say *ngak sik*. Juz that love to learn dialect and languages. Hakka or Mandarin, I'm the *bantongshui* lol tQ.

Jingle said...

Happy Saturday!
Your post rocks!

Bananazക said...

Jingle ക tQ you have a great weekend too.

foongpc said...

Oh I didn't even connect this mai dong xi to buy east west! Didn't realise the dong xi is same character as the direction East West! Poor me!

foongpc said...

Very interesting post! I believe I learn a lot from your blog, but I hope I remember the things I learn cos I have poor memory . Haha!

foongpc said...

Hmmm, no wonder the feng shui compass always have South at the top! Interesting

Bananazஇ said...

foongpc இ you are not alone Bananaz only just found out not too long on the East-West thingy. Oh really the fengshui compass has the South at the top? Sure didnt think your memory aint that bad..haha. tQ.

Ethan said...

Pretty worthwhile data, lots of thanks for your post.
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