May 11, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010 இ Baŋäŋaz இ 79 comments
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].