Date of Performance/Collection: 4/22/19
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Korean
The subject is a college freshman, born in South Korea before moving to the United States when they were 12 years old. I wanted to get to know more about any folklore they might have experienced growing up, so I conducted an interview with them to find out.
Subject: Okay, so kids, you know how kids like swear on their mother, right?
Subject: So like, in Korea we do this one our forehead [It’s basically the Shaka sign but with the end of the thumb on the forehead] and stick our tongue out and say em-chang.
Subject: Yeah it basically means, if I’m lying my mother’s a prostitute. And it varies between places in Korea, sometimes you put the hand vertical on your face, or you don’t stick out the tongue, sometimes the thumb goes on the tongue.
Interviewer: Wow, and this is common?
Subject: Yeah it’s the equivalent for swearing on your mom’s life. Arguably harsher.
Upon further research, it seems that a lot of different cultures have their own forms of swearing on their mother. The common link is always the mother figure. It begs the question as to why, however I think it’s a simple answer. The mother figures in our lives are extremely important to us, especially when we’re very dependent children. The importance of the mother role is very clear across the globe.