As we all know, language is a bridge to help us to communicate and understand other cultures. One of the most interesting things when studying a language is to learn about different mindsets which help us to change the ways in which we see the world.
Positions in Chinese
Up and Down
时间 – Time
In Chinese time runs down like a waterfall, rushing down and submerging us in the world.
The period from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. is like a boulder at the halfway point, which is called 午.
A river runs from above to below, so we call the former upstream, and the latter downstream. This is the same as in English.
上车 / 下车 – Getting In and Out of Vehicles
Although in English you say you “get in” or “get out” of a car, in Chinese, the words are 上 shàng (on) and 下 xià (off) respectively.
上 – get on/in
下 – get off/out
车 – car
公交车 – bus
地铁 – subway
请在第一站 (上车) , 在第七站 (下车)。Please get on at the first stop, and get off at the seventh stop.
Getting on/off a Boat, Ship, or Vessel
船 – boat, ship, or vessel
上船 – to go on board, embark
下船 – disembark
It's time to go on board.
Going to Class, Work, and Other Daily Routines
课 – a class or lesson
上课 – to begin or to have class
下课 – to finish or get out of class
上学 – to go to school
放学 – to get out of school; school is out
上班 – to go on duty or get to work
下班 – to get off duty or get off work
We get off work at 6:00 p.m.
My son has piano class from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. every Wednesday.
I will go to the library after class.
At 7:00 a.m., my son goes to school and my wife goes to work.
Surfing the Internet
上网 – to go online
You can use wifi to surf the internet at the airport.
上菜 – to serve the food (dish up)
撤下(不常用) – to clear the table (not often used)
All the guests have arrived, so it's time to serve dinner.
Now Mandarin Chinese is not as difficult as you assumed, is it? Once you have mastered the Mandarin Chinese mindset, learning will become more simple and fun!
汉语并非你以为那样难，对吧? 只要掌握了汉语的思维方式, 学习会变得简单而有趣!
Front and Back
If we consider time as a river, the Chinese stand facing the direction of the river's flow; in other words, they stand facing the direction of history with the intention of respecting traditions. In the eyes of the Chinese, it seems that the days stand in line, with the earliest days at the front and later days toward the back of the line, passing one by one.
前天 – the day before yesterday
后天 – the day after tomorrow
前年 – the year before last year
后年 – the year after next year
前人 – predecessors
后人 – descendants, offspring
Yesterday's yesterday is the day before yesterday, and tomorrow's tomorrow is the day after tomorrow.
My girlfriend and I traveled to Canada the year before last, and plan to go to Africa the year after next year.
Predecessors sow the seed [of trees], and the descendants receive the shade. In English, a similar saying is "Walnuts and pears, you plant for your heirs."
Chinese people are the offspring of the Dragon.
Left and Right
According to the traditional rules of Chinese writing, writing should proceed from up to down and from right to left.
The Position Mindset
According to a traditional Chinese geographical mindset, east is left and west is right. So, Chinese people always consider themselves to be facing south when they talk about geography.
Left of the river = East of the river
江左 = 江东
The Power Position Mindset
In traditional Chinese culture, left means breaking the rule or being different with the standard, so right is always more respected than left. The Right Prime Minister's position is higher than the Left Prime Minister's, so "going right" 右迁 means promotion. However, this difference is becoming less important in modern times.
从方位到区间 – From Position to Range
When you combine 上 and 下, 前 and 后, or 左 and 右 together, used behind a number, this shows that the number is not exact.
当 “上” 和 “下”，“前” 和 “后”，“左”和 “右”合在一起，用在数字后表示数字不确切。
上下 – About
上下 is often used after stating an age to show this age is not exact.
Her daughter is about 10 years old.
前后 – Around/about
前后 is often used after a period in time to show this time is not exact.
We like to eat rice dumplings around the time of the Spring Festival.
Remark: 春节, the Spring Festival, is the most important traditional festival in Chinese culture.
He got married around 2012.
左右 – Around/about
This is often be used behind any number to show this number is not exact.
Lunch time is around 12:00.
That man is about 40 years old.
I moved to the city of Shanghai around 2011.
My brother is about 1.65m tall.