Chinese Tuesdays: 忐忑 and 旮旯


Some interesting words I’ve learned lately:

忐忑 (tǎntè): Comprised of 心 (xīn, heart) with 上 (shàng, up) or 下 (xià, down), it’s easy to remember that this means perturbed, mentally disturbed, fidgety.

旮旯(儿) (gālá(r)): This means nook, corner or out-of-the-way place, but I have no idea why. Both characters, neither of which are ever used alone apparently, are made up of 九 (jiǔ, nine) and 日 (rì, sun), which doesn’t help much. Something to do with nine suns mythology, perhaps.

Update: Thanks to Brendan O'Kane for finding a poetic alleged explanation for 旮旯 in Baidupedia: "意为9个太阳才能照到的地方", roughly meaning "a place that only the rays of nine suns can find."

Every Tuesday on the Anthill, Sam Duncan posts a langauge titbit from his blog. Read them all here