The last time I posted here, I was 19. I am now 20. Therefore, I feel it is necessary to break back into blogging with the same sort of post with which I inaugurated Formicidae Fantasy back in my ant days of teenage summer. Of course, I am speaking of the Monday Mandarin Meanings series! Today, we will be discussing the following word, kòujiǎkē:
Kòujiǎkē is the word for Elateridae, the family of click beetles. What is a click beetle? Why, this little guy:
Click beetles are named after their unique ability to click back and forth along a segment of their thorax. One way to induce this behavioral mechanism is to grab the beetle by the thorax and apply slight pressure – the result looks and sounds rather amusing!
In the Mandarin word, jiǎ simply denotes the insect as a beetle (as in 甲虫, jiǎchóng) and kē is the word for taxonomic order. But the truly interesting character is kòu, which means to knock or to kowtow. I think that the latter definition is both more apt and more enlightening. I have never before considered the idea that by clicking, the Elaterid could be acknowledging my supremacy in being one who studies not beetles, but the vastly superior ants. Truly, the Chinese language is rich in meaning! Who knows what gems of knowledge will be revealed in the coming Mondays?