My Korean vocabulary was expanded recently when I learned the word 음치(eum-chi) meaning tone-deaf. I started thinking whether there was a connection because I once learned the word 길치 (kil-chi) from Talk To Me In Korean, and used to call my best friend 길치all the time because he had absolutely zero sense of direction. I can’t count the times when we were in some place and he would pull out the Naver map app on his phone, while I would look at my surroundings and have a pretty good idea about where we should be heading. In case you were wondering I was always right 🙂 But where am I going with this?
If you look at the ending of the two words, you’ll see that they both end in 치 (chi). This comes from the Chinese character 癡 and means to be an idiot at something or do something very clumsily. So for tone-deaf 음치, the 음 (eum) part means sound and in 길치 the 길 (kil) part means way. So a tone-deaf person is a sound idiot and someone with no sense of direction is a way idiot. Fun right? I’ve got more!
If you’re 몸치 (mom-chi), you’re a bad dancer. 몸 (mom) means body so it means you’re a body idiot or someone with no control over your body. A person who is 박치 (pak-chi) is one with no sense of rythm. 박 (pak) means rhythm or beat so – a rhythm idiot.
Sample sentences: 너 진짜 길치야! You really suck with directions! 노래방 가기 싫은데, 나 완전 음치거든. I don’t want to sing karaoke, I’m completely tone-deaf.