USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘folk speech’
Folk speech
Proverbs

“A penny saved is a penny earned”

Informant AB is a 23-year-old male who is from the East Bay in Northern California. He is a student at the University of Southern California in his third year as a civil engineer major. Here, he discuses a proverb that he learned from his father while growing up:

AB: “My dad would always say, ‘A penny saved is a penny earned.’”

Where did your dad learn this proverb?

AB: “My dad learned it from his father who also learned it from his father.”

Does this proverb have any significance to you?

AB: “Absolutely. I believe that it is always best to save money when you have it and just because you do have money doesn’t mean you should be spending it. It is smarter to save it for a rainy day.”

How do you use this proverb in your everyday life?

AB: “I try to save as much money as I can and I generally don’t spend more than I take in. I’m always trying to save a little bit no matter what. And when the day comes when I have my own kids, I will pass this on to them to help them understand and learn the value of a dollar and to not spend frivolously because this was the way I was taught by my parents.”

Analysis:

This proverb that the informant shared with me I found to be very relatable in that I was raised in a similar way in regards to valuing money. This proverb was originally stated by one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin in the 1700’s. This proverb provides a positive connotation in that it is important to save money in the moment because it will benefit you in the long run. It teaches you to the importance and value of money and what you have.

Folk speech
Humor
Narrative

“Whatever you do, don’t step on the cracks”

Informant AB is a 23-year-old male who is from the East Bay in Northern California. He is a student at the University of Southern California in his third year as a civil engineer major. Informant AB was taught by his grandfather as a child to not walk on the cracks on the sidewalk to avoid bad luck:

AB: “When I was little, I would visit my grandparents on the weekends with my younger brother and we would sit in the family room all together after dinner. My grandfather would tell us all kinds of stories of when he was a kid growing up. He told us that his father would always tell him to never walk on the cracks on the side walk because it will give you bad luck for 7 years.”

How did your grandfather’s father learn about this type of lore?

AB: “Well, I asked him one day about the meaning behind the story and he said that his father learned it from a buddy of his when he was a kid. He said that his friend heard it from the neighborhood kids. My grandfather said it was mostly to be meant as a joke, but some of kids took it seriously, like my grandfather.”

Does this folklore have any significance to you?

AB: “Ya it’s pretty funny how it actually does mean something to me. Ever since my grandfather told me and my brother this story, I have been very conscious to walk a certain way to avoid the cracks in the ground. I know it’s mostly a joke and not meant to be taken too seriously, but just knowing the idea of the potential bad luck that can come from stepping on the cracks makes me more aware to avoid them. It’s pretty funny how seriously I take it sometimes.”

Have you shared your grandfather’s story with anyone else?

AB: “Ya I’ve told my buddy NC and a few other friends growing up about the story and it’s pretty funny now I have them doing the same thing. We know it’s not meant to be taken too serious, but I think it’s funny how much of an impact it made on all of us. Even at our age today we are still very mindful of the bad luck that can happen if we step on any cracks.”

Have your friends carried on this folklore in any way?

AB: “My brother and my friend NC have definitely shared this story with their friends just to mess with their minds in a joking way. They find it entertaining to make people feel that bad luck can happen if you step on cracks. It has become a running joke between all of us and it has managed to freak other people out.”

Analysis:

The informant’s example of oral folklore shows just how a story can cross boundaries between different groups of people and influence their everyday lives. It began with AB’s grandfather’s father who initially carried on the story, but now AB and his brother have continued to pass the story along to their group of friends. I find it interesting how this story has turned into an inside joke between friends, but how it also had such an impact that it managed to make them aware enough to avoid any chances of being struck with bad luck.

 

Folk speech
Proverbs

“Taj ko čeka, taj dočeka”

Informant MV is my mother who is both Croatian and Italian. She was born in the United States and grew up in Los Angeles, CA. Her parents immigrated from Croatia to the United States in 1958. MV speaks Croatian fluently and has two daughters who she raised within the Croatian and Italian traditions and culture. This is a Croatian proverb that MV grew up with that she has passed down to her two daughters:

“Taj ko čeka, taj dočeka.”

“A person who waits is a person who receives.”

In the Croatian language, the letter “j” is pronounced as a “y” sound and the “č” is pronounced as a “ch” sound like in English.

How do you know about this Croatian proverb?

MV: “Growing up in a Croatian and Italian family, it is a Croatian proverb that my parents used in our everyday lives.”

 How did your parents learn about this proverb?

MV: “Well my father learned this proverb from his parents while he was a very young boy growing up in Split, Croatia. It was a popular phrase used among our family members dating back generations ago. When he got older, he continued to pass this proverb onto his family.”

Does this Croatian proverb have any significant meaning to you?

MV: “It has great meaning to me because it is something that holds true to what I believe in and it is very much relevant to any generation and language today. I feel as though this proverb is relatable to most, if not everyone. This Croatian proverb is very similar to the one that says, ‘Good things come to those who wait,’ in that patience is rewarded to those who take the time to let things come that are truly meant to be. Not forcing the end result or expected outcome, but letting nature take its course in delivering what is really meant to be. You will meet your goal when you let patience and acceptance into your life.”

How can you or others relate to this proverb?

MV: “I think this proverb is fitting for me or anyone. When you think things are not going your way or something is not happening fast enough or not happening in the time frame that you would want it to happen in, it kind of makes you get your perspective and to move forward and to keep doing what you’re doing.”

In what context or situation would this be performed?

MV: “I use this Croatian proverb when I try to give advice to my kids, well, they’re not really kids anymore, but I say this when they are in times of frustration to remind them that everything happens in its own timing and that when you wait, what is meant for you will come along naturally.

Analysis:

This Croatian proverb is a great example of how folklore is spread orally over generations. Growing up in a traditional Croatian and Italian household, my mother learned the Croatian language before she learned Italian or English. As a child of immigrant parents, it was important to her and her family that they did not lose sight of their traditions. Once my mother had my older sister and I, we were taught Croatian before English, that way we were able to uphold our heritage and understand our family roots. Still knowing the language today, I find it comforting when my mom tells me this proverb in times of stress or frustration. It helps me to see past the obstacles that I am faced with in that particular moment. Now as an adult, this proverb especially resonates with me and I have continued to pass this proverb along to my friends.

 

Folk speech
Proverbs

“Idimi dođimi”

Informant MV is my mother who is both Croatian and Italian. She was born in the United States and grew up in Los Angeles, CA. Her parents immigrated from Croatia to the United States in 1958. MV speaks Croatian fluently and has two daughters who she raised within the Croatian and Italian traditions and culture. This is a Croatian proverb that MV grew up with that she has passed down to her two daughters:

“Idimi dođimi” “Coming and going” 

In the Croatian language, the “đ” in the word “dođimi” has a “j” sound like in English.

 Where or who did you learn this Croatian proverb from?

MV: “I learned it from my parents and heard it from other family members in Split, Croatia growing up. It is a very descriptive, common proverb that is used to describe a person who is not reliable or consistent in their work or character.

Do you like this proverb?

MV: “I do very much and it is very short, sweet, and to the point.”

Does it have any significant meaning to you?

MV: “I just have heard a lot of people in my family say it and it has stuck to me over the years. It’s meant to be used in a light manner; it’s not a serious critique of a person or situation. It is usually said in a light, joking way and it usually involves a little laughing so that’s why I like it and use it because it really isn’t a negative thing. It is just a light way to describe something and everybody who is from Split knows what it means.

What kind of context would you use this proverb?

MV: “This proverb is generally used to describe a personality type, someone who is not that driven or career oriented. It can also be used loosely to describe someone who does not have a clear goal in sight. It can be said in situations that are frustrating to help relief the tension in a light way.”

Analysis:

In Croatia, there are many different types of proverbs that are used throughout the different regions of the country. However, each region has its own vernacular. “Idimi dođimi” is a classic Split proverb that is used casually to describe a person’s disposition or demeanor. It is meant to be used in a light-hearted and joking manner. Growing up listening to my mom say, “Idimi dođimi” was also a type of way my mother reminded me that there are going to be people ‘coming and going’ out of your life and not everyone is meant to stay. She would say that those who ‘come and go’ are the people who are temporary placed within my life.

 

Folk speech
Proverbs

“Mene musika nosi”

Informant MV is my mother who is both Croatian and Italian. She was born in the United States and grew up in Los Angeles, CA. Her parents immigrated from Croatia to the United States in 1958. MV speaks Croatian fluently and has two daughters who she raised within the Croatian and Italian traditions and culture. This is a Croatian proverb that MV grew up with that she has passed down to her two daughters:

 “Mene musika nosi”

 “Music carries me”

Can you expand on the meaning of this proverb?

MV: “This is generally used for describing yourself or another person who is fairly upbeat most of the time, not much gets them down. They don’t let the burdens of everyday life get in the way of their happiness. Music also tends to make people happy so this proverb has a positive, happy connotation.”

Where or who did you learn this Croatian proverb from?

MV: “I learned it through growing up in a Croatian and Italian household with parents who immigrated from Europe. It’s part of my cultural heritage. We spoke Croatian in our household fluently as it was the primary language in our family and friends.

What kind of context would you use this proverb?

MV: “This proverb is mainly used to describe a person disposition. To this day, it is pretty common to use, not so much with the younger generation, but mostly with the middle age generation and the elderly. It is a quintessential proverb from Split, which is on the Dalmatian Coast where the Adriatic Sea is. That region is where a proverb like is originated.”

So this Croatian proverb is mostly regional more so than a generalized proverb that is know throughout Croatia?

MV: “Exactly because there was an influx of different people in different areas of Croatia who don’t know the history of Split and don’t know the old dialect and the old proverbs. It’s a melting pot like many places in Europe and in the world today. A lot of that gets filtered away, so it really is quite a gift to be able to move this forward generationally to my children. Knowing that my daughters know the Croatian language, they will uphold these proverbs and other traditional aspects of our heritage and that they will continue to pass them on to their own children and even their friends as well.”

Do you think Croatians from other parts of the country would be able to relate or understand this proverb in particular since it is a proverb from Split?

MV: “I think they would understand it, but they would look at you like you are from another generation or era because of the Split dialect used in this proverb and also because throughout Croatia, there are different dialects depending on the region, so that can influence the ability to fully understand the meaning behind it. There are people of course that would understand it who are not from Split, but it is not used as readily as it was when I was a child, so that is why I made sure and still make sure that my kids understand it and carry it along with them.”

Does this Croatian proverb have any significant meaning to you?

MV: “I use it quite frequently actually. It was kind of a joke in our family for a while because there was a good family member who would always be happy really no matter the circumstance and we would always say about him, ‘Mene musika nosi.’ It is certainly a positive, optimistic proverb used to describe how you feel or a person’s disposition.

What kind of context would you use this proverb?

MV: “It could be something like if someone said, ‘Gosh, you are never down. Do you ever get upset?’ and the person would say, ‘Mene musika nosi,’which means that their general path in life is one of happiness as opposed to looking at life as the glass is half empty instead of half full. It is very comparable to that. It is a framework in which they view their life, but it’s not something that they think about, but more so how they live their everyday life.”

Analysis:

Music is a large part of our Croatian culture, which embodies positivity and self-expression. Croatia has maintained a vital musical culture since its independence in 1991 from the former Yugoslavia. “Mene musika nosi” is a classic proverb from the city of Split that my mother always uses. It is used as a reminder to never let the negative aspects of live interfere with the positive. It is a way at looking at life in the most optimistic way. Those who are content about how they live their life commonly use this proverb. It is a reminder to themselves and to others to not take life so seriously. I found it interesting how based on the regions and the different dialects that not everyone in Croatia will fully understand the meaning behind the proverb. Since the people of Split strictly use this proverb, people from other regions may not fully be able to relate to it.

 

Folk speech

Destruction

Piece:

Destruction (pronounced like Christopher Walken shouting)

A melee (Super Smash Brothers Melee, a game by Nintendo) term from the melee community—a commentator named D1 would try to hype up the game whenever something cool happened. Because he over-exaggerated how intense the gameplay was and continuously said “destruction” at mildly interesting moments, the phrase became a joke in the community and is used whenever you want to hype up something that isn’t actually hype worthy.

i.e. whenever a player accidentally kills them self or misses an attack.

Informant & Context:

My informant for this piece is an active member of the competitive Super Smash Brothers Melee community, which has been active since 2001. He has attended multiple tournaments and watched others on live stream web sources such as Twitch and Youtube.

Thoughts:

I find it interesting that a lot of the folk speech insults in online games originate from an attempt to parody something in the community’s spotlight. This particular one parodies a specific commentator in combination with a particular player’s mediocrity. Folk speech in this community is also highly interesting due to the local nature of the game; since the game is offline, the only way to spread game culture is to attend tournaments and other events related to the game.

Folk speech

Johnnystock

Piece:

In melee (Super Smash Brothers Melee, a game by Nintendo) you have 4 stock lives. There’s a player named Johnny who has a habit of playing poorly—he overall is just mediocre and then suddenly you’re just dead.

“So is Johnnystock like the first two lives where he plays poorly?”

No. It’s just like when someone suddenly kills you. Like out of nowhere.

Informant & Context:

My informant for this piece is an active member of the competitive Super Smash Brothers Melee community, which has been active since 2001. He has attended multiple tournaments and watched others on live stream web sources such as Twitch and Youtube.

Thoughts:

This is the first piece of folk speech in video games I’ve recorded that isn’t an insult. Since it is mostly used in verb form (to be Johnnystocked) it serves the purpose of lauding the Johnnystocker rather than chastising the Johnnystocked individual. This is an example of folk speech arising as a manifestation of the actions of those at the center of the community (the professional players).

Folk speech

Noob Origins

Piece:

N00b and nub are corruptions of “noob”, itself a corruption of “newb”, short for “newbie”. “Newbie” was in use at least as far back as the BBS era of the 1980s and early 1990s, where it referred to a user who was new to BBSs. It was less of an insult and more friendly than “noob”, which was popularized by Counterstrike players in a context where a poor player can ruin the game for others.

Newbie itself is modern slang, where according to Wikipedia it referred to new soldiers in Vietnam. The word’s origin before this is unclear, but it appears to be a word created to turn the adjective “new” into a noun, perhaps as a diminutive (Barbara -> Barbie, for example).

 

Informant & Context:

My informant is a commenter on the website Stack Exchange, who goes by the username Joe Dovakhiin, a popular message board website in the online gaming community. The comment was in response to a forum question about the origins of the word Noob. I believe the comment was legitimized by the more than twelve thousand thumbs ups it received by other forum users.

Link to forum: http://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/10420/how-did-the-term-noob-originate

 

Thoughts:

This is one of the most classic or conventional gaming insults in my opinion. It is a phrase that has continued to be used throughout my lifetime, and has a life span almost as large as the video game industry itself. This phrase is especially interested because it has maintained popularity in the entire gaming community whereas other phrases have gone in and out of style like fads.

Folk speech

#LCSBigPlays

Piece:

In the LCS (League of Legends Championship series) — it’s the biggest championship series– there are certain known playmaking character that are consistently super important to team fights. This commentator Phreak would sometimes comment “WOW big plays” whenever one of those pivotal moments occurred in a game. Thus started the hashtag #LCSBigPlays. Then it became a balance criticism after characters continually performed well in tournaments and it was theorized that Riot refused to balance these characters because they were exciting to watch in tournaments and the company didn’t want to take away from the spectacle (Specifically in reference to the character Ahri, who has been first-pick banned in tournaments for the last 2 years).

 Information & Context:

My informant for this piece is a student at the University of Southern California who has been involved in the League of Legends community for the past 5 years. He was exposed to this piece of folk Speech after watching the LCS one year in which Phreak commentated and witnessed the rise of the hash tag in online games in the following months.

 Thoughts:

I find it interesting that a lot of the folk speech insults in online games originate from an attempt to parody something in the community’s spotlight. This intrigues me because it indicates a role reversal—using something that has become overused in an attempt to highlight an idiosyncrasy in the game. This folk speech insult has become popular in an attempt to chastise the game’s creator for not providing more balance in the game to it’s players.

Folk speech
Riddle

Cuban Riddle

Original Script: “Un muchacho le pregunta a una muchacha, ‘Cómo te llamas?’ Ella le contesta, ‘Si el enamorado es entendido, ahí va mi nombre y el color de mi vestido. La respuesta correcta es, ‘Su nombre es Elena y su vestido es morado.”

Transliteration: “A boy asks a girl, ‘How do you call yourself?’ She to him responds, ‘If the lover is understood, there goes my name and the color of my dress.’ The answer correct is, ‘Her name is Elena and her dress is purple.'”

Translation: “A boy asks a girl, ‘What’s your name?’ She responds, ‘If the lover is understood, there goes my name and the color of my dress.’ The correct answer is, “Her name is Elena and her dress is purple.'”

 

This riddle only makes sense in Spanish because the Spanish word for lover, enamorado, is a combination of the last three letter’s of the girl’s name, Elena, as well as the color of her dress, morado. ena+morado=enamorado. Furthermore, the word enamorado is preceded by the word el in the joke. El translates into “the” in this context. The woman in the riddle is testing the man to see if he’s clever enough to figure out  her name using only the clue, rather than just asking for it.

The source said she heard it at a bridal shower. They were telling wedding riddles, and this one came up. It’s a coy riddle, with the woman sounding very flirtatious. It seems she’s interested in this man, but only if he’s smart enough to beat her game. It seems odd that her dress would be purple rather than white, though. Perhaps in some earlier version of the riddle, the man was a prince? Because purple is known to indicate royalty.

 

For another form of this riddle:

Ortiz Y Pino De Dinkel, Reynalda, and Dora Gonzales De Martínez. Una Colección De Adivinanzas Y Diseños De Colcha = A Collection of Riddles and Colcha Designs. Santa Fe, NM: Sunstone, 1988. Google Books. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.

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