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Is the time same to all of us?

Different cognition of time

Cherishing time is the value of all cultures,however, the understanding of time is quite different in different culture.

Take a look at these expressions of time in English.

  • Do you have time to spare?
  • Thank you for giving me your time.
  • The plane lost time due to the weather.
  • How did you spend your free time?
  • Don’t waste my time.
  • I need to put aside some time to catch up on my correspondence.

Lakoff and Johnson used these cases to research the
metaphor of time in English.

As far as their concerned, time is thought as money in western world, it’s limited resources and goods with great value.

Therefore, the sentences above use verbs that lead to a change in quantity like give(赠与zèng yǔ),lost(丢失diū shī),spend(花费huā fèi)and waste(浪费làng fèi).

Now, let’s take a look at some Chinese old sayings.

  • 一寸光阴一寸金,寸金难买寸光阴

yī cùn guāng yīn yī cùn jīn ,cùn jīn nán mǎi cùn guāng yīn

An inch of time is worth an inch of gold, an inch of gold will not buy an inch of time.

  • 时间如流水

shí jiān rú liú shuǐ

Time is like running water.

  • 光阴似箭,日月如梭

guāng yīn sì jiàn ,rì yuè rú suō

Time flies.

  • 十年树木,百年树人

shí nián shù mù ,bǎi nián shù rén

It takes ten years to grow a tree and a hundred years to bring up a generation of good men.

  • 日出而作,日落而息

rì chū ér zuò ,rì luò ér xī

Go to work at sunrise and go home at sunset.

  • 逝者如斯夫,不舍昼夜

shì zhě rú sī fū ,bú shě zhòu yè

It passes like this,regardless of day and night.



As you can see, Chinese use flow(水流shuǐ liú ),gold(黄金huáng jīn),arrow(箭jiàn),tree(树shù)

to describe time which is thought like a natural phenomenon.

This reflects the cognition of the traditional agricultural society on time.


Different cognition of time leads to different way of act and think.

A lot of our students don’t know how to deal with the “timing”issue when they are in different country.

For instance, when you are invited to a party or something, will you be there early, late or on time???

The answer to this question depends on which country you are in.

In China, you have to go to the party on time or early to show respect to the host.

Things would be a lot different if you are in America, you are allowed to be late for about 15 min when you are invited to informal occasions.





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