I can’t really explain it, but ever since I learned a new word for “pinch” yesterday, I can’t help thinking it’s a kind of a tactile onomatopoeia.
Tell me it doesn’t sound like the action of pinching or maybe the cry of someone who’s just been pinched.
Qia! What are you doing?!
I kind of wish it were 4th tone, but then again that would be more severe sounding than a little pinch.
Stump the Chinese Bonus
This came up in a class when a student asked me how to say “qiā” in English. The demonstration she performed on her classmate was a pretty good clue, and I realized this is the first “qia” I’ve ever learned (I know now that there are more).
I wrote “pinch” on the board for everyone else and explained it means “qiā.” I saw heads nod in understanding and then the nervous looking around at classmates’ papers started.
I’ve got a lot to say about the hanzi roadblock that prevented my students from getting out of their own pinch and just writing niē 捏 without getting permission from me. But instead I choose to end this post feeling good that, back when I first learned niǔniǔ niēniē 扭扭捏捏 (documented here), I clicked the scissors icon at MDBG (giving me the individual characters’ meanings) so I could offer the students an alternative to this fun little word. I can’t wait for Saint Patrick’s Day!