Monday, June 1, 2009

teeming rain?

at the peace vigil i attended tonight (it is held every monday evening) in madison, a fellow participant described the "teeming rain" of a few weeks before, when a kind sympathizer brought them a pizza.

his usage of "teeming" was, i think, an inadvertent innovation. cities and streets teem. rain pours, streams, drives, etc in conventional usage. but like language used by non-native speakers, this "mistake" was nonetheless vivid and colorful, more so than the accepted combinations. when words jump the banks of their usual course, they can surprise and please.

yesterday i reflected on a word in korean. korean friends visited (long suffering phd pilgrim) and we enjoyed a beautiful day on the beach and in the yard, soaking in the sun and laughing at their adorable little boy grabbing other people's frisbee and other kids' toys on the beach. once i was pushing their stroller. when sujong, the woman, came over to take over the duty, she maneuvered to take the handles. as she did so, she said "cha. . ." perhaps as we might say, "OK," or "alright."

i realized middle class and wealthy korean women use this word/sound a lot. i am not even sure it is a word to be found in a dictionary. i don't think there is a meaning so much as a function. when she gave the little boy something, she might say "cha," as we might say "there." it is a curious linguistic particle, one indicating a proper femininity.

No comments: