As I have thought over and over again, Chinese is so straighforward in its word combinations, and often gives exquisite word pictures.
Take the word 马上。 Ma3 shang4.
Literally, “on the horse.”
Definition: Immediately, in a second, right away.
Can’t you just visualize the origin of the word?
I’ll be right there, I’m saddling up the horse as we speak, and will be there quick as a blink.
Of course, there is the literal meaning, then there is the real-life meaning.
When will you be done with this task? Ma shang.
When will he be back? Ma shang.
When will the food be ready? Ma shang.
Real time may be of uncertain duration…