Have you ever heard the saying ‘15 minutes of fame’? Andy Warhol is credited with these memorable lines, but what he actually said was: ‘In the future, everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes’.
That was in 1968, before the internet arrived in our pockets and celebrity culture, reality TV shows, and viral videos became so prevalent. Andy Warhol’s words have predicted some of the major features of our current society. ‘15 minutes of fame’ has become a popular English idiom. Do you ever use it? Have you had your 15 minutes of fame yet?
‘15 minutes’ in Chinese is 十五分. 十五 means ‘15’ and 分 is ‘minute’. In our previous post for 分 (http://on.fb.me/16RKf5n), we mentioned that 分 means ‘to divide’. However, when we use 分 as a noun, the definition changes to ‘minute’, ‘fraction’, or ‘mark’ (as in a mark given for an exam). Let’s summarise the usages of 分:
分 as a verb: to divide, to separate, e.g. 分手 (fen1 shou3; break-up, split-up)
分 as a noun: minute*, fraction, mark, e.g. 15分 (shi2 wu3 fen1;15 minutes) or (15 marks on the exam)
*One side note here, ‘minute’ can also be translated as ‘分鐘/分钟’ (fen1 zhong1) which is the full-expression of ‘分’.
So, what do you think about 十五分 of fame? Do you think it’s the norm of our modern society? Do you agree with Warhol?
Illustration: Hua Zhong Wen
未來 means “future” in Chinese. Notice how both of the characters in this phrase use 木 (tree) as a component. What a great reminder of the important role nature will play in our planet’s 未來 (future)!
未來 = 未 (Not Yet) + 來 (To Come) = Future
P.S. The popular American TV show Futurama is called 飛出個未來 (fei1 chu1 ge wei4 lai2) in Chinese!