USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘surfers’
Folk speech
general
Humor

Surfer Slang

I had signed up for a surfing lesson while on Spring Break in Maui with my parents. When we were learning about how to stand on the surfboard – on the beach of course; we started on dry land learning how to get on the board and how to stand up once we were on it, as well as the proper stance when on the board – when the instructor noticed that I was in a stance for a lefty. He then called out and said something along the lines of, “You’re a goofy foot!”

 

Of course, I asked them what the term meant. “Goofy foot” is a blason populaire term used by surfers for left-handed (-footed?) surfers. It is not all that surprising that surfers would have their own term for lefties, since lefties are much less common than right-handed/-footed people. Most of the human population is right-handed/-footed, and in the West at least (Europe, America) left-handedness was considered to be negative, unlucky, incompetent, socially wrong, etc. So, to a population that was 9/10ths right-handed, being among the 1/10th of the population that was left-handed/-footed would look awfully weird, and thus “goofy,” to the “normal,” right-handed/footed people. Furthermore, since handedness in surfing is shown through the stance, the let-handed surfing stance – meaning the feet – would be “goofy footed” to a right-handed surfer.

general
Protection
Signs

Dolphins are “good vibes”

My informant stated that surfers believe that when dolphins are seen during a surf session, that means sharks are most likely not present at the time and surfers foresee a good experience in the ocean for that day. My informant stated that when he went surfing at Huntington Beach, a couple of surfers spotted a dolphin literally a foot away from them swimming. They then told my informant that whenever Dolphins around enjoying the ocean, that means they are protected from sharks and will have a good surf session as they have nothing to worry about.

My informant’s take on why he believes this superstition, “It is always eerie when in the ocean alone and the mind always wanders and wonders if there is anything lurking under the water. When one looks for a dolphin and one is seen, it rids of these wandering thoughts and fears. I also like to tell people who have never been surfing before this story, since a lot of people are scared of the ocean and surfing. This story puts them at ease.”

I believe my informant got that basis of this superstition from actual accounts of dolphins saving surfers from shark attacks and also from disasters. There are two popular accounts, one is of a surfer who was bitten by a shark, dolphins soon surrounded this surfer and created a frenzy to keep the shark away from this injured surfer. Another is the story of a surfer who was knock unconscious by his surfboard, a dolphin brought him back to shore. I believe that these surfers got their belief from these stories that influenced this specific protection legend.

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