In the remainderof this blog post, the focus is on the Chinese characters horse and top. /马 mǎ 上 shàng/, which initially denote on top of a running horse, is currently an adverb meaning immediately. Jim Gibney (2011), who teaches English in China, observes that /mashang/, which literally means 'at horse speed', turns out to be 'eventually' when it comes to getting repair work done for his building.
In Chinese culture, apart from material objects, gift as a cultural concept may refer to the money offered to the host of a wedding or birthday banquet (see the Mandarin skit illustrating the plight of a married Chinese couple who hatched a plan for throwing a 10th anniversary wedding banquet as a strategy to make some quick money in Chun Wan 2014, http://www.chun-wan.com/). Receiving gifts is a double-edged sword, as it may be interpreted as bribery, although it is a cultural practice in many parts of the Chinese-speaking world for establishing guang 关 shi系 (relationship), or networking in a cultural-specific corporate world. The delivery of hampers among business associates normally peaks during the month before Chinese New Year in Singapore and Malaysia.
For illustration and comparison of Chinese wishes in the real world that begin with /mashang/, Table 1 contains two types of wish shared verbally during Chinese New Year in Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore and Malaysia. The first type is the immediately-have-thing wish such as immediately own money, house, and car. The second category, in contrast, is the immediately-be-in-a-state wish including immediately be prosperous, immediately be lucky, and immediately be happy.
ma shang you qian
Get rich immediately (Tho, 2014)
ma shang you fang
Own a house immediately
ma shang you che [hao] (Tho, 2014, brackets mine)
Obtain a car [licence plate] immediately (Tho, 2014, brackets mine)
ma shang fā cái
Strike a fortune immediately
ma shang hǎo yùn
Become lucky immediately
ma shang xin fú
Blessed with happiness immediately
The year 2014 offers an immediate opportunity for the horse and top characters to spring into life, as it were, via a zodiac-based fortification in the semantics of wishing repertoire invoked as a face-to-face cultural practice. Both characters /mashang/ reverberate an on-top-of-the-horse meaning because the immediately-wishes in Table 1 are not commonly shared with each other in Chinese New Year yet become relevant and popular in conjunction with the ushering in of the year of the horse.
After knowing that /mashang/ is used to wish for something immediately, or get into a wonderful state immediately, we may append many things or states that are desirable for listeners in our verbal interaction. A well-tailored wish in the year of the horse will definitely enhance one's CQ (cultural intelligence) immediately, so to speak. The scope that follows the immediately-wish is definitely diverse ranging from good health, youthfulness, longevity, pregnancy, daughter, son, or promotion for everybody in accordance to one's preference(s).