January 12th, 2006

ozarque figure

Link re water babies in Korea....

There's an article on the water baby concept in Korea -- "Rites for the Unborn Dead: Abortion and Buddhism in Contemporary Korea," by Frank M. Tedesco -- at http://www.buddhapia.com/eng/tedesco/kjabo.html . To go directly to the section specifically regarding water babies, scroll down to the header that reads: "Venerable Myogak and Aga-ya! Please Forgive Me!"

I am struck by the term "unborn dead," by the way; it's one I've never seen before. It's another item for my files on the fashion in which the whole topic is made cumbersome in English by the lack of a suitable vocabulary, so that you're constantly forced to use words that don't quite work properly to express your intended meaning. There are little bits of meaning sticking out all over the place that have to be ignored, or folded under to get them them out of the way, or otherwise manipulated; there are little holes in the meaning that have to be ignored, or somehow filled.

It's like the way that native speakers of English (and native writers of English, as demonstrated by my struggles in the excerpt from The Language Imperative) are forced to choose from the set that includes "fetus, embryo, child, baby, infant, product of conception" based on the intentions and attitudes those in the outside world have with regard to the entity. [And that sentence itself would qualify as a paradigmatic example of the problem; talk about awkward!] I don't think any woman who is a native speaker of English would ever say "Today I felt my fetus move for the first time."