Legends
Narrative

Manneken-Pis

Background of informant:

My informant YF is an international student from Brussels, Belgium. He spent the first two years of high school in Los Angeles, and the last year back in Brussels. He lived in Wallonia in Belgium, which is the French-speaking region that accounts more than a half of the country.

 

Main piece:

YF: “There’s a really famous thing in Brussels, I don’t know why, but Chinese tourists are always like: ‘I wanna see Manneken-Pis!’ So Manneken-Pis is a statue in Brussels, it’s like the most recognizable thing in Belgium. ‘Manneken-Pis’ is directly translated as ‘Little Men Pissing’. It’s a small statue beside a fountain.

“So there are so many stories about this little guy pissing, so for example, one of the would be that this evil witch set a bomb to destroy Brussels, and Menneken-Pis saved Brussels by pissing on the witch that was going to set up the bomb.

“Another thing about the name ‘Menneken-Pis’ is that, ‘Menneken’ is a dialect from Brussels, … Brusselly [laugh]. It’s just the dialect that combine both French and Dutch and it is spoke by people in Brussels. So we have different dialects in different regions of Belgium, in the southern part, the dialect is Wollo, because the regions Wallonia. But wollon can be entirely different in different cities or town in the southern part too. Dialect is never taught at school, but it’s spoke in home. However, dialects are dying now. My grandma speaks it and my mom speaks it. But my mom doesn’t really talk Wollon to any one other from my grandma. Honestly, it’s only old people who speak it, because there’s a period when kids were required to speak only French in everywhere, since Wollon was considered as vulgar. It’s dying now, because of urbanization, is killing the culture.

“Back to the little man pissing, it is located very near to the Grand-Place, which means ‘Big Plaza’ or in Dutch as ‘Grote Markt’.

“For the version about the witch that I heard of, about Manneken-Pis, I might learned it from a camp that I went to when I was younger.

“What funny about Manneken-Pis is that, during certain times of the year, there’s this place that makes costume for Manneken-Pis. So like if it is Christmas, he wears a Santa Claus outfit. Or sometimes, there are fashion designers make clothes for Manneken-Pis.”

 

Context of the performance:

This is a part of the interview I had with my informant YF.

 

My thoughts about the piece:

The conversation started with YF said, “I don’t know why, but Chinese tourists are always like: ‘I wanna see Manneken-Pis!’” And when we looked at the street view of it using Google Map, there are always a bunch of tourists surrounding by the Manneken-Pis, whether is on a sunny day or a rainy day.

Also, YF told me that there’s another similar statue called Janneke-Pis. Since Manneke means little man where the suffix “-ke” is a diminutive, Janneke means the similar ting, except it’s a little girl that’s pissing, and Jan doesn’t mean girl, Janneke means little Jane. It is located in a dead end street next to a really famous bar called “Delirium Tremens” in Brussels, which is the bar that has the most beers available in the world at any given moment (their menu offers more than 300 beers).

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