Folk speech
Humor
Proverbs

“I’m Staying Another Week” – How Punchlines Pervade Daily Life

The informant is a 54 year old woman, who has lived in the United States all her life. She was raised by her mother and has no siblings. She attended school through college, and lives in downtown Chicago with her husband. The following is what she described as “folkspeech” from her mother-in-law.

 

Informant: “It’s from a joke. So, whenever, if we were having a disagreement, like your uncle and I, about anything, and you’d ask your Grandma’s opinion about it. Like, “What do you think?” She’d say, “The soup’s not hot, the soup’s not cold, and I’m staying another week.” It was a punchline to a joke about a married couple whose mother-in-law is there visiting and won’t leave so they stage a fight to try and make her leave. She realizes what they’re doing so she says, “the soup’s not hot, the soup’s not cold, and I’m staying another week.” So whenever I would try to get her involved, that’s what she would do. She said that all the time.

 

Interviewer: “Do you know where she heard the joke?”

 

Informant: “Oh, from Grandpa, I’m sure. He had so many jokes, you remember.

 

Interviewer: “Of course. Do you know where he got his jokes?”

 

Informant: “He would hear them and I guess kind of mentally collect them to tell.

 

Thoughts: Initially I was unsure as to whether or not this was folklore. The phrase itself doesn’t seem very “folkloric” in nature; neither does the informant’s in-law’s use of the phrase. However, when I thought about the phrase again, I realized that it is a form of folklore. The phrase itself came from the punch line of a joke—something that people learn from other people—and the informant’s mother-in-law took the punch line into a different context, her daily life. This is a perfect example of how folklore can traverse across different mediums and how it can be applied in different ways.

 

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