who could tell me why a boss in Chinese is called a 老板＝ an old plank.很有意思 (hěn yǒu yì si)？
minlee108June 12, 2012, 08:34 AM
Hi, You also asked a very interesting question. Hehe
As you know " 老 " means " old“
" 板 " means " plank "
but, when " 老 " met " 板 " , and become one word
" 老板 ", it doesn't neans ' an old plan' ,
it means " boss ".
You can try to understand like this "老板" is the abbreviations of " 老是拍板的人"
Like, Somebody is always pound the table when he makes the decision.
Hehe, Just in my opinion, hope you can understand.
hi minlee 108,
thanks a lot for your explanation of 老板 in the sense of the guy who is 'clappering' the table to make clear that he is the boss.
Are there other possibilities of explanations ?
I looked up an old character of 板 which is 闆， so to speak "品 pin3 under a 门men2, or goods in a shop entrance. The famous French Chinese dictionnary "Ricci" shows this 老闆 only with the significance “patron ( d'une boutique)" which means a shopkeeper. For the other significances it shows the 板 character. Do you have some other sources?
You are welcome.
The wrod " 老闆" is the traditional Chinese character of "老板".
" 老闆" = "老板"
Here have a website about " 老闆", but it's in Chinese.
Hope it have some help.
couchboyJuly 05, 2012, 02:24 PM
A bit off topic, but I've always wondered how east '东', west '西' became things '东西' as well.
The usual story you hear in Chinese classes is that it refers to the earliest creation of markets for goods and services. 东西 (Stuff) was brought from the 东 and 西 ("east and west"), to markets.
I am sure that there are a variety of stories about the origin of the word 东西, but this one has the advantage of being intuitive.
I think 汉典 is sometimes good for tracing these kinds of things...not much help with 老板 but for your question of 东西 it seems to provide an answer.
So of course 东西 originally went east and west, and still does today when pronounced with two full tones (when meaning things the second charecter is neutral). Looking at the development of its uses, I think the story gets interesting at the 4th, 6th, and 7th meanings, which I have cut and pasted below.
So it looks like in the 4th step, during the Han dynasty we have this east west meaning extended to generally mean 'everywhere' or 'all over the place'. In the 6th meaning, during the song dynasty this extends to mean things that are produced everywhere. In the 7th meaning, during the Ming dynasty we have a use of it to mean 'thing'.
I'd guess this was the path of development, north snd south to everywhere to things produced everywhere to thing.
But just piecing together with a few minutes of skimming, so no guarantee of accuracy ;)
4. 犹四方。 汉 焦赣 《易林·讼之未济》：“避患东西，反入祸门。” 唐 杜甫 《无家别》诗：“我里百餘家，世乱各东西。” 宋 晁补之 《鱼沟怀家》诗：“生涯身事任东西，药笥书囊偶自賫。” 清 唐孙华 《同宋药洲太史登滕王阁》诗：“人生游跡过如扫，鸿爪一瞥飞东西。”
6. 物产于四方，约言称之为东西。古代亦以指产业。 宋 王溥 《唐会要·逃户》：“ 大中 二年制：‘所在逃户，见在桑田屋宇等，多是暂时东西。’”
7. 泛指各种具体或抽象的事物。 明 朱有燉 《豹子和尚自还俗》：“我又无甚希奇物，我又无甚好东西，他偷我箇甚的？”《红楼梦》第三五回：“ 凤姐 笑道：‘这一宗东西，家常不大做；今儿 寳兄弟 提起来了，单做给他吃。’” 沙汀 《闯关》一：“感情真是一种奇怪的东西。”
Haha, simultaneous posts, yours wasn't around when I posted.
Actually, I think yours is much more complete, it explains how they got from 4 to 6 and then 7...I was just listing discrete meanings. Interesting.
Here's something I stumbled across recently during my procrastinations. I haven't read the paper and have no particular opnion on it, but thought I'd throw it in there...
It has been a controversial issue whether the generic item, dongxi ‘thing, object’, was derived from the locative, dongxi ‘east and west.’ However, there has been no justifiable conclusion for its etymology, until the publication of the article “On the original meaning of DONGXI and metonymical thought” by Shong and Zhou in 2009. They shed a new light on the widely debated issue and proposed that the earliest origin of dongxi could be traced back to the oracle bones and the history and culture in eastern Sichuan, particularly the salt industry at that time. In their article, they claimed that the characters DONG and XI, from analyzing the pictograph, represented rice bag and salt jar. Through the metonymic mechanism, they commonly referred to rice and salt respectively. Metonymy is a figure of speech in which one word is substituted for another because they are conceptually related.
Then, the combination of DONG and XI is again affected by metonymic inferencing, and become a generic item, referring to almost everything. From this, it’s plausible to assume that the GN, dongxi ‘thing, object,’ was originally referred as concrete objects such as containers and food in the past years. This discovery served as supporting evidence that the original meaning of DONGXI was not locative indicating directions.
Hmm, I'd feel better about that explanation if we could dig up some old imperial uses of it for 'thing'. The earliest I found in my cursory search was yuan dynasty, whereas the east west meaning goes back to spring and autumn period, so there's over 1500 year gap there.
So the paper argues for some really early uses, back way before the spring and autumn period? Thats got to be a tenuous contention, given the sparse records. But even were it true, it would seem then that this meaning entirely disappeared by around 500 bc, and then we don't have the meaning appearing again for a couple thousand years, so it would seem this wouldn't count as a true origin for the modern meaning, which would still have emerged from the east and west meaning. It would just be coincidence that there was a possible ancient use similar to this newly emerging meaning in the 1300s 1400s. Unless we could find some earlier dynasty use examples connecting this....
Yeah - I don't know how they justified it, though it would be interesting to find out. This also makes me wonder how much we (I mean academia in general - I know almost nothing) really now about the etymology of even single characters (especially going back to the oravle bones). I can't help but think that a lot of it is just pure conjecture.
couchboyJuly 05, 2012, 09:21 PM
Wow, interesting... I also remember hearing that it came from 'stuff coming from east and west', but to be honest, it sounded too like it was a convienent explanation teachers or parents gave to the kids.