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This text is talking about the lights in 广州湛涌村。

由于如秋后,广州的日照时间缩短,自花苗上盆起,花农们就会利用电灯补光来延迟花期。

This bit confused me (I'm easily confused). Is it right that 自 ... 起 work together as 'from when' or 'starting from when' here?

自...起 since

花苗上盆
starting from when the seedlings are put in their pots

If this is right, you can clearly see the power of Chinese to express ideas in a very concise manner!

  • Your understanding is correct: "自花苗上盆起 starting from when the seedlings are put in their pots". – dan Nov 27 '19 at 4:45
  • 延迟花期(delay the flowers selling period) is wrong. It should be "延长(prolong)花期" – Tang Ho Nov 27 '19 at 8:52
  • "如" in "由于如秋后" is a typo. It should be ""由于秋后" – Tang Ho Nov 27 '19 at 8:54
  • @ tsh "由于如秋后,广州的日照时间缩短" means the daylight time is shortened, The lighting is there to make up for the lost daylight, It is hard to do business when it is dark. So "prolong the selling time" make sense but "delay the selling time" doesn't – Tang Ho Nov 27 '19 at 9:51
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    @TangHo 入 can't be omitted in 由于入秋后 because it will change the meaning. 由于入秋后 means after entering the fall, while 由于秋后 means either at the end of fall or after the fall. – dan Nov 27 '19 at 10:42
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自...起 since

It is correct, "???" means "Since ???"

  • 自 = from

  • 起 = begin

"(自) ??? (起)" = "(begin from) ???" = "(Since)???"

e.g."七月禁止捕魚" (Ban on fishing since July)

Other common structures with 自:

"(from) ??? 以來(thereafter)" = "since ???"

e.g. 美國立國以來 (Since the founding of the United States thereafter)

" (from) ??? 以後/之後 (after)" = "since ???"

e.g. 美國立國以後 (Since after the founding of the United States)

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Yes, your understanding is right.

「自...起」 can be used for a point in time as well as in location.

For example, 「自第二层起,所有楼层都是住宅」 meaning that “from the second floor, all floors are residential”.

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