So, I had always assumed that 先 just meant previous, prior, etc. but I just got very tripped up on it. I was looking at some song lyrics and got the opposite of the intended meaning. Here they are:
運命を 感情を 抱くべき子たちよ その先へ その未来(さき)へ 導かれたのなら
And the given translation is:
O children, you who should embrace fate, embrace feeling If you are led into the future, into the future.
What? Future? Doesn’t 先 mean previous though…? So I headed to the vocab page on WaniKani to see if I had learned it wrong, and lo and behold
…Ahead? But why? Isn’t that the opposite of all of the other meanings…? Well clearly this case is using that meaning, but why, and how can I tell?
Basically, I’m very confused and need some explanation. お願いします！
Though that makes sense, I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around it in this example. I don’t really understand from what perspective I should be viewing the sentence in order to make その先へ “to the future”.
Aah, so it’s an expression. Confusing, but it now makes sense. I’ll just have to mark it down mentally. Thank you very much!
@Leebo That’s very true, I never considered that instance of “before”, uh, before. I suppose because it’s a set phrase I never thought about how misleading it could be. Thank you for your clarification.
It also uses the word ‘lies’ meaning to not tell the truth, when it should be ‘lays’. Aren’t languages amazing in their ambiguities and colloquial usages, such as I told someone learning English, I was running late for their lesson, they thought I was physically running.
Lays wouldn’t make much sense though, since lay is a transitive verb. The confusing thing though is that lay is also the past tense of this meaning of lie. Even natives misuse lie and lay and their various conjugations regularly (myself included, when just speaking off the cuff).
I never pay attention to lie/lay, so you are absolutely correct, I am one of those people. The only grammar point which I will never falter on is well vs good, thank you coach fischer from 6th grade for making fun of me in front of everyone for making the mistake. Now I never do it.
Surprisingly I was able to get 前 easily because… I don’t know? I guess I already had enough examples from just hearing it over the years to know immediately what it meant. Maybe it’s because “before” also works in a similar fashion, who knows. I wonder if this contradictory behavior is in a lot of other languages as well.
What you’ve got here is a time-space metaphor that doesn’t match your own language.
In English we metaphorically travel forward in time, so what’s behind us is in the past and what’s ahead of us is in the future. It makes intuitive sense to us because… well… we’re used to it.
Japanese seems to be travelling metaphorically backward in time, so what’s ahead of them is in the past and what’s behind them is in the future. Compare 後ろ (behind) and 後で (after) with various meanings of 先.(past, before, ahead). It makes its own kind of sense because you can “see” your memories of past events but you can’t see events in the future because they’re metaphorically located behind you out of sight.
During linguistics, we were assigned a thought exercise.about an alien language where they had a vertical time/space metaphor instead of a horizontal one, so up represented the past and down represents the future. Similar idea here except with less buoyant jellyfish creatures.
After all these years I’ve ended internalizing it, but when I first learnt that 前 means past and 後 means future I was extremely puzzled.
A friend of mine worded it as “what comes before (前）is in the past and what comes after (後) is in the future” and I was like “well… maybe?”, because before that I could only see it as “the future is ahead (前) and the past is behind（後）”