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Burying the bill (?)

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Burying the bill (?)

Postby frank » Sat Oct 15, 2005 8:25 am

Hi all,

These days i came across an interesting Chinese expression:
maidan, meaning 'to pay the bill', 'i want to pay the bill' (e.g. in a restaurant or something).

Apparantly, it has two ways of writing, and even pronouncing:
mai2dan1 买单: lit. to buy the bill
mai3dan1 埋 单: lit. to bury the bill.

I was told that the origin of the expression was a kind of slang expression which originated in the southern parts of China and which spread to more northern parts and even Beijing, and which indeed was mai3dan1, to bury the bill.
Later it got re-interpreted as mai2dan1, to pay the bill.

The story doesn't strike me as incredibly odd or fanciful, but i'm curious if somebody could comment upon this.


Groetjes,

Frank
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Postby Flaminius » Sun Oct 16, 2005 12:12 am

According to this dictionary, mai3 can mean to embed in ordinary speech. Would it, then, be far-fetched to assume that in slang mai3 signifies "filling the blank"? In context of paying the bill, maidan seems to me referring to filling the blank line in the bill by underwriting it.

Flaminius
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Re: Burying the bill (?)

Postby M. Henri Day » Sat Oct 22, 2005 5:45 pm

frank wrote:...

Apparantly, it has two ways of writing, and even pronouncing:
mai2dan1 买单: lit. to buy the bill
mai3dan1 埋 单: lit. to bury the bill.

...


Frank, I fear you got that backwards : it is «埋单» that is transliterated máidān (or mai2dan1) in the 拼音 system, while «买单» is read mǎidān, or mai3dan1. The basic meaning of «埋» is «to cover» ; the metaphor of «covering expenses» is common to many languages. So is the metaphorical use of terms meaning «to buy» : in Swedish, for example, we speak of «att köpa ett resonemang» (buy, i e, accept an argument or point of view), while in Japanese one can (but it is the better part of valour to refrain) 喧嘩を買う (buy a quarrel)....

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby Flaminius » Sun Oct 23, 2005 1:15 am

In Japanese quarrels are given and taken like a commodity. One can sell them (kenka-o kau) as well as buy them (kenka-o uru).

As with any mercantile transactions, quarrel trades need two parties, susceptible to emulation and liable to governmental taxation.

Flam
who hope no kenka is on sale on this electronic market
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Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Oct 23, 2005 6:08 am

小生は喧嘩を売る気がない !...

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby gailr » Sun Oct 23, 2005 1:08 pm

As with any mercantile transactions, quarrel trades need two parties, susceptible to emulation and liable to governmental taxation.
[my emphasis - gailr]

Flam- I cannot decide whether you are an economic genius or just running for Congress. Think of the revenue stream this represents!
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Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Oct 23, 2005 2:08 pm

A «Road Rage Tax», for example ?...

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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