A few questions occurred to me today. I don’t know whether anyone who reads this blog will know the answer, but I’m going to post them anyway.If nobody seems to know, I’ll go ahead and Ask a Korean, and see if that guy can come up with any sensible answer… but first, I’ll post here.
The first thing I’m wondering about is the cat name “나비.” (For those of you not living here in Korea, the stereotype name for a cat is 나비. The Korean word for butterfly is the same.) I’m wondering:
- Is the name actually butterfly, or just a homophone? (I’m pretty sure it’s the former, but I wanted to check.)
- Are many cats actually named 나비 these days? Or is it like with the name “Fido” for dogs in English, a name we almost never actually see used, but which is the stereotype name for that animal, perhaps because it was at some point more common?
- How far back is 나비 a stereotyped name for a cat? Was the name either stereotypical or in use during the late Joseon Dynasty? Any idea how far back the name was used for cats, or was stereotypical for cats? (ie. Do you know if there is an old literary reference to a cat named that way?)
The second thing I’m wondering about is: when Koreans finish using a shower with a detachable shower head, they very often don’t set the shower head back in place — that is, they usually don’t put it back into the shower-head holder above their heads, but instead place it low, near the faucet. I assume this is to let the water in the shower head drain out, but I’m not exactly sure why. It’s a practice that doesn’t seem to have developed in the West — I never saw such a thing until I arrived in Korea — and I’m just wondering why it is so widespread, and what purpose it originally served.
(As far as I can tell, it doesn’t seem to serve any purpose now… it seems rather like the still-common habit of putting giant trash receptacles next to toilets in brand-new buildings that definitely have pipes wide enough to accommodate toilet paper — a vestigal practice, in other words — but I’m just curious regarding what the original purpose of the practice was.)