::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

"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?

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