Perhaps it has been a decade or so since the term ‘lì mǎ’ (ㄌㄧˋㄇㄚˇ)(立馬) became popular among younger Mandarin speakers. A discussion with my NTNU professor led us to come to the conclusion that young people tend to find proper terms to be opaque and ‘not cool’.

The term ‘lì mǎ’ (ㄌㄧˋㄇㄚˇ)(立馬) is actually a short term of ‘lì jí mǎ shàng’ (ㄌㄧˋㄐㄧˊㄇㄚˇㄕㄤˋ)(立即馬上), or ‘lì kè mǎ shàng’ (ㄌㄧˋㄎㄜˋㄇㄚˇㄕㄤˋ)(立刻馬上). In English, they both mean ‘immediately, right now’. Yes, mind the comma in between. For a reader as smart as you, without second thought you know that it is redundant.

Some might argue that we don’t say ‘immediately, right now’ in English, but how about other languages? As far as languages that I know are concerned, nobody says ‘immediately, right now’.

This is in line with a universal wisdom that people are smart enough to understand any common expression in any language. If you think ‘immediately, right now’ is good language, next time please say ‘make sure your body leaves the bus when you get off at your destination’.

Therefore, do you still say ‘lì mǎ’ (ㄌㄧˋㄇㄚˇ)(立馬)?


所謂「立馬」,其實是「立即馬上」、「立刻馬上」的簡寫。英文就是immediately, right now。是的,英文就必須寫個逗號來斷句。冰雪聰明的讀者如閣下,你當然即刻知道那是累贅的寫法。

有些人可能說英語人不會說immediately, right now,那麼其他語言呢?以我知道的語言來說,實在沒有人說immediately, right now。