If you were to go shopping, what would you say? The answer should be:“I’ll buy something” .
Of course, this sentence is a common word in our daily life. But do you know why shopping is called”buying things” instead of”buying north and south”? Is it that we Chinese have a soft spot for the word”things”?
Of course not. This “stuff” actually represents a different meaning.
Why is the word for an object called” something”instead of” north-south”?
About this, some people say that because the items are produced in the Quartet, they are called “stuffs “. But when you think about it, it seems that this statement is not correct. Since it is said that the goods are produced in the Quartet, why should it be called”something” instead of”north-south” or”east-west, south-north”? How about it?
It is also said that during the Eastern Han Dynasty, most of the merchants were concentrated in Luoyang, Tokyo and Xi’an, Chang’an. There is a saying in the saying”buy east” or”buy west”, which means Tokyo Luoyang and Xi’an Chang’an went to buy the goods. In addition, some people said that during the Tang Dynasty, because of the establishment of the”Fangshi system”, Chang’an City could only shop in the East and West markets, so”East and West” became a proxy for goods in the future.
Some of these statements may sound reasonable, but none of these statements have been able to convince college students in the Northern Song Dynasty— 朱熹 . On the basis of these reasons, he still raised his own doubts.
One day, Mr. Zhu Lao met his good friend Sheng Wenru on the road with a basket, and Zhu Xi asked,”Where are you going?”
Sheng Wenru replied,”Go shopping on the street.”
Zhu Xi asked in puzzlement:”Can’t you buy North and South?”
Sheng Wenru answered with a smile:”Of course not. Eastern wood, Western It belongs to gold, and belongs to gold and wood, and the basket can be filled; while the south belongs to fire, the north belongs to water, and water and fire are not allowed, so you can only buy ‘things’, not ‘South and North’ “.
In fact, Sheng Wenru’s meaning is already very clear. The so-called shopping is defined according to the yin and yang five elements, gold, wood, fire and soil. Gold represents metal minerals and is oriented west. Wood stands for all plants, and its orientation is in the east. Both metals and trees are substances, so of course they can be bought. Water in the north and fire in the south are non-specific objects and naturally cannot be purchased.
Seeing here, do you think the ancients were very intelligent? It is worth mentioning that during the Qing Dynasty, people had different interpretations of the word”things”, which said:“The birthday needs of the people are all out of wood, and the gold is easy to use” >. In other words, the common people eat, wear, and use the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds of grass plants, but these items are not directly obtained by value, but are exchanged for currency. At this time,”stuff” became synonymous with food.
So we will find that now that we eat food, it is called”eating” and shopping is called”shopping”. Now our lives are closely linked with these two words, and it is difficult to separate them.
But strictly speaking, these explanations don’t actually apply now. Take the explanation of Yin Yang Five Elements, since non-physical things like water and fire can’t be bought and cannot be installed, what about the water and gas bills we pay now?
References:Shuo Wen Jie Zi, Easy Learning Chinese Studies;