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  5. "ごはんの前に手をあらいます。"


Translation:I wash my hands before a meal.

July 24, 2017





Isnt it weird that before in english and japanese refer to both time and space. Before the building. Before a meal. Weird.


From what I know, this is true for most, but certainly not all languages. This is probably due to thinking of time as linear, so that one "faces" the future while moving toward it, as is common during motion toward somewhere/something and "faces away" from the past that is being traveled away from.

Some languages, like Mandarin, use "up" as before and "down" as after. I'm not sure why this is.

A few languages, like Aymara, use "behind" for the future and "front" for the past. This is probably due to being able to see the events of the past clearly, as if one was facing it, but not being able to see the future, as if was out of one's view.

I don't know of any languages that use "down" for before and "up" for after, but imagine that at least one has existed, even if only due to unusual circumstances.


I speak Mandarin but I cannot think of any case using up and down for before and after. Before a meal is 飯前 or 餐前; After a meal is 飯後 or 餐後. 飯上,飯下 make no sense at all.


This is true, he's probably referring to 上/下 in the sense of previous/coming. Like 上个月 last month and 下个月 next month.


I do use "up" and "down" in Vietnamese for saying "front" and "back" when I'm referring to parts of the house. from my understanding, kitchen, usually at the rear of a house, used to be a bit lower, one step or two, compared to the living room and bedrooms, which are usually on the front part of the house. this configuration might now be obsolete, but some still refer to living room as up and the kitchen as down, even if they are on the same level.


how can you distinguish between up/down and front/back ? for exemple if you want to describe the location of something relatively to something else ?


In fact I think most of the languages are like Aymara (and Quechua): in English too, before(=in front) is past, after(=behind) is future. The same in Japanese, the same in Hebrew. I guess sometime in the renaissance the Europeans started facing the future more than the past, but the languages still preserve the old thinking.


Same in Tamil, and I think German as well. Perhaps there's some underlying linguistic reason for it.


Perhaps the English, Japanese, Tamil, and Germans all got it right before Einstein.


Same in Russian and other Slavic languages.


Funny that it only applies to "before=in front of" in Polish, but not to "after=/=behind".


I thought it ment "in front of the meal" at first, but realized that didn't make much sense


Also find it weird that both languages use 'take/toru' for taking pictures, taking notes, and taking objects eg money


don't. I guess it's a construction that more than a few languages adopted. French has the equivalent with the verb "prendre": prendre une photo, prendre des notes, prendre un objet eg. de l'argent. so does Spanish with "tomar": tomar una foto, tomar apuntes, tomar objectos eg. dinero.


I wash my hands in front of the rice :p


Actually, "meals" is the most correct translation. The Japanese is ambiguous (it could be before any meal, or could be before a specific one: we don't know because Japanese lacks both the plural/singular distinction and a mandatory article before nouns). No one would ever say this phrase in Japanese and actually mean THE (specific, aforementioned) meal. That's just bizarre.


Isn't gohan rice?


yes, but in East/SE Asian cuisines, a typical meal revolves around rice so much that "rice" also means "meal". I can't say for other regions/countries/languages that have a strong bond with rice, but I'm sure that is true for Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.


Do you wash someone else's hands before you eat?


I wash my hands in front of rice should be correct, even if it is an unlikely sentence


That would use で. 「御飯の前で手を洗います。」


前 is being used here in terms of time - not a location.


Shouldn't ''I wash my hands before meal'' be accepted??


I wash my hands before A meal. Or THE meal.


"I wash my hands before meals" is the correct translation and more proper English indicating habit. Please add this answer or replace.

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