Arts & Culture | Language

When Language Wears Boots

A daughter who is jia 嫁 is out of the house is gone forever, water poured out of a bucket, never whole, never yours again.

Fourteen, or so. I’m in the front seat of the Subaru, with my mother, on my way to violin lessons in upstate New York. We’re talking about some man we knew who married some woman we knew, and we’re speaking in Chinglish, as usual. I said, “Yeah, and so he jia her?”—he married her?

Shih-ChingBook of Odes

When my aunt married in Taiwan in the 1980s, this was still custom: My grandfather had to pour a bucket of water out onto the porch. Because that’s what a married daughter is: spilled-out water. You can never collect her all back together; never have her back as yours again. That’s what jia gei 嫁给 is. Given away. Unable to come back. 


Reader, I married himReader, I married him

Reader, I married him

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