Thursday, March 6, 2008

What is all that clicking?

I was asked the other day what it means when a Somali makes clicking sounds at a person. The people asking the question were intake personnel at a clinic, and they were pretty sure that it expressed some degree of annoyance, but they weren't sure if it was just an expression of irritation or if they were being insulted in some way. Usually it was Somali women who made the noise at them.

I said I couldn't recall having heard it a lot myself, but the women who were asking me the question said, "Oh, we get clicked at a lot around here."

The way they described it was not exactly a clicking, but it was harsher and sharper than just "tsk-tsk-tsk".

So I asked around, and came up with a range of meaning, from "Oh, sh*t, why me??" (I'm quoting here) to "No no no no no no no. That is *not* going to happen."

And even though I didn't think I had heard it much, I caught myself doing it later that day when my computer misbehaved.