Author Archives: Aimy Vo

Riddle – American

Q: “What word is pronounced the same when you take out 4 letters?”

A: Queue; Q.

My informant first heard this riddle while attending UCSB.  He was sitting in his dorm room with some friends.  One of his friends mentioned that there was this really good riddle in the daily newspaper.  The friend asked my informant the riddle and my informant did not know the answer.  When my informant’s friend revealed the answer, my informant believed that it was a very tricky riddle.  Even though my informant thought it was tricky, he thought it was a very intelligent one that would be challenging if he told someone else.

Therefore, during a barbeque at a friend’s house, my informant and some friends were asking each other riddles and my informant asked me this riddle.  I did not know the answer and felt very dumbfounded after my informant revealed the answer.  After my informant told me the riddle, I realized that riddles do not usually come up in a normal conversation.  Riddles usually come up when a person has recently just heard a riddle and thought it was very interesting.  After one person brings up a riddle, it breaks the ice of the conversation and many other people start to bring up riddles.  After one riddle is brought up, it seems as if it becomes a game and other people bring up riddles because they want to feel smart since they know the answer.

Folk Speech – American

“Jinx, you owe me a soda.”

My informant first heard this phrase when he was thirteen years old and in junior high.  My informant and his friends were at lunch hanging out and they both said the word “dumb” at the same time, so his friend said “Jinx, you owe me a soda.”  Ever since then, my informant has been using this phrase.  While my informant and I was getting some ice cream at the supermarket, we both said “cookies and cream” at the same time.  My informant shouted “jinx, you owe me a soda.”  At first I did not understand because I am familiar with when a person says jinx, the other person who did not say it must be silent.  My informant explained to me the different version of this folk speech.  Afterwards, I had to treat my informant to a soda.

There are many different versions of saying jinx when two people say the same word at the same time.  The original version that I am familiar with is when two people say the same word at the same time and one person yells jinx, then the other person must be silent.  If the person who did not say jinx speaks, then he or she will be punished by getting hit in the arm or by getting pinched.  Another rule for playing this game is that if two people say jinx at the same time, then the person who said it the slowest must be silent.  Another variation of this rule is that if two people yell “jinx” at the same time, then one person can say “personal jinx” which will overrule their opponent’s “jinx.”  In this case, the person who said “personal jinx” will be in power and win the game.  In the case of my informant, instead of the other person being silent, the other person just has to buy the winner a soda.

This play on words is considered folklore because many people throughout different cities know about this folk speech.  It has been used so commonly that it is natural for a person to yell “jinx” when two people say the same word at the same time.  Even though at first, this folk speech seemed like a childish one that was only played in grade school.  My informant who is in high school proves that the word “jinx” is not restricted to just children who are in grade school.

Riddle – American

Q: “A car is parked outside of a hotel, it drives off and the guy ends up in jail. How?”

A: It’s a monopoly game board.

My informant first heard this riddle when he was 8 years old.  My informant and some of his friends were playing monopoly and after they were done playing the game, my informant’s friend told this riddle.  Since my informant’s friend told this riddle right after playing the game board, my informant was able to get the answer.  However, when my informant told this riddle at the barbeque we were all confused and none of us could get the answer.

After all of us heard the answer to the riddle from my informant, all of us thought that it was a silly riddle because the answer was so simple.  Most riddles have this effect because when most people think about riddles, most people try to overanalyze it by thinking of different situations.  When most people tell riddles, it is automatically thought in people’s minds that the answer will be hard to get or it will be tricky.  Since most people automatically have this mindset, the riddles that are the hardest to answer are actually the simplest riddles.  The simplest riddles are the ones that get people the most.  This is why most people tell these types of riddles because once the person realizes how easy the answer was, they feel dumb.  Therefore, the person telling the riddle finds it amusing or entertaining that the person is trying so hard to figure the riddle out.

Proverb – American

“Good things come to those who wait.”

My informant first heard this phrase at the age of 14 when she first entered high school.  The transition from junior high to high school was very hard for her.  School became academically a lot harder for her.  She had a lot more work that she was not use to.  One day as she was complaining about studying, her parents told her the proverb of “Good things come to those who wait.”  They were trying to teach her to be patient and to just study and it will pay off in the end.  My informant interpreted this proverb as working hard will be rewarding in the end.

However, I think the meaning of this proverb is about learning the virtue of patience.  This proverb is straight forward in that it is saying a person will be rewarded if they are patient.  A person who is impatient will always want to rush things and will end up not waiting and appreciating things as they come.  For example, if there is a person who wants a car really bad but is patient and waits to get it will be more excited and happy when it eventually happens.  This proverb is used as a didactic method.  This proverb originated with the French and can be traced back to the early 1500’s.

Annotation: This proverb can be found in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, The Student’s tale.

Folk Speech – American

“Shotgun, no blitz.”

My informant first heard this phrase from his friend while they were getting into his friend’s car.  As my informant and I were walking to the car out of target, my informant ran to the car and shouted “Shotgun, no blitz.”  He first said “shotgun,” because shotgun refers to the front seat of the car near the driver.  Then my informant said “no blitz” which I did not understand.  My informant said that when you play flag football, a person can say no blitz which means that the opposing team can not rush a person or tackle them.  In the case with getting the front seat in the car, he said “Shotgun, no blitz” so that I could not rush in and grab the passenger side before he gets to it.

There are many variations of saying “Shotgun” to get the passenger seat of the car.  Some other rules for saying this is that a person can not say “shotgun” until they actually step outside and see the car.  The saying can also not be said inside of a building or a house.  Another rule is that if a person knows where he or she is going, then he or she automatically gets shotgun.  The term “shotgun” is coined from the fact that back in history, the people who sat in the passenger side held shotguns.  This saying is very popular now because it helps a person reserve their seat on the passenger side.