USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘taunt’
Folk speech

Baseball Slang

Abstract:

This piece is about different phrases or words that deal with baseball slang.

Main Piece:

S: The first one I’m going to talk about is like when someone is pitching if they hit the dirt, like if it goes short of the plate, like a low pitch, you call it a worm killer.

C: A worm killer? Why?

S: So baseball is this very mental game, it is more mental than any other game because if you let something affect your mind, you’re going to play worse. Like it is one of those sports, I was actually talking to my boss about it the other day, they’re directly correlated to one another. Your mental and physical performance. And I truly believe that a lot of the slang comes from trying to jab the other players.

C: Get in their head?

S: Yeah, get in their head. I think it is the most mental game out of all the major sports, because it’s all chatter. Like worm killer, you’re going to yell it to make fun of the pitcher for sucking. I say a lot of things like, well I don’t know how you would transcribe this, so when someone is batting and you’re on their team, and the player is batting, you kind of say gibberish almost. Like “um-nam-um-nam-um-nam.” You kind of just keep going. It’s kind of like, the main basis of it is “come on now.” if you can kind of hear it in there. So everyone is just doing that in the dugout like that Spongebob episode.

C: That’s funny.

S: Yeah, so there’s that and there’s “get off me ball.” It’s what you would say if the pitcher hits you, then it’s like check that ball. Make sure it’s okay or the player’s okay. There’s “wear it.” Wear it means like if you’re a batter and a pitch comes into the batter’s box, but you like turn away to get out of the way, your own team will yell wear it. So you can get on first base.

C: If it hits you?

S: No if it doesn’t hit you, but you like get out of the way of the ball. People would say “wear it” like you should have gotten hit. Which is obviously kind of hard, like you don’t want to sacrifice your body, but you know there’s that. Another thing we’ve been screaming is “Is he a diamond back because he’s rattled.” So if the opposing pitcher is pitching and we are getting hits on him.

C: So he’s doing bad?

S: Yeah so “is he a diamond back because he’s rattled” like rattled would mean he’s all screwed up in the mind. That means we really got to him. These are the funny ones. I mean there’s actual baseball lingo that is kind of serious. Like “dinger” means homerun.

Context:

The informant is a 20 year old student from Bentonville, Arkansas. He has played baseball since he was 9 years old and continues to play on the USC Club Baseball team. He has picked up this lingo and slang from years of playing on different teams and learning about the customs.

Analysis:

I think the informant was right about the purpose of this particular slang. Baseball seems to be all about what goes on behind the scenes, this slang included. Getting into a player’s head seems to be key in how well you play as well. I think one aspect of this slang that was not touched on in this piece was how it affects your own head. The informant described how to get into other players heads, but it would be interesting to learn if there were methods players took to block out distractions.

general
Musical

Choctaw Freedman Anti-California Song

Informant: When my grandma moved from the reservation in Oklahoma—the one where, like, you know, they were forced to go after the Trail of Tears and stuff—to California, people were mean to her and her family. And the other Choctaw Freeman. So they’d sing this little song, like:

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,

all the Okies go to heaven.

When we get up there;

we’ll sing: hell, hell,

you’re gonna go to hell,

all the Californians are gonna go to hell!”

The informant is a student at the University of Southern California. She is from an “eccentric” family. Her grandmother is Choctaw Freedman (formerly enslaved African Americans who joined the Native American Choctaws in Oklahoma) and has passed on many of her traditions and beliefs to the informant.

This song, the informant told me, is something her grandmother and other Choctaw Freedmen preformed together when they came to California and faced prejudice. The song is colored with equal parts resentment for Californians and pride in the Choctaw Freedmen identity.

Folk speech
Proverbs

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

 

My informant who is currently a first-year college student first heard this proverb in his elementary school in Downey, CA from his teacher in third grade.  There had been a problem with certain kids being targets for bullies in class.  The teacher decided to address this issue to the class.  She told everyone to remember that even though physical pain cannot be helped, you can always choose how to take words from others.  The only way words have power is when the person allows them to hurt him or her.

This proverb is not usually used on adults but mostly on children.  I do not think this proverb can apply to adults as well because the circumstances are different.  When children taunt, the taunting consists of silly rhymes, sticking out the tongue and such whereas when adults exchange harsh words with each other, those words are personal and have the ability to hit someone at a vulnerable spot.  Parents and teachers teach young children about not allowing words to hurt them because many children tend to pick on others not for any legitimate reasons of dislike but from mere prejudice.  I believe this proverb can apply very well to children but not to adults.

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