Author Archives: Luz Juarez

De Tin Marin –Mexican Sorting Song

Main Piece:

“De tin marin, de don pingue

Cucara marcara, titere fue

Yo no fui, you tete

Que ese merito fue”

It can be translated* as follows:

“From Tin Marin, from two big ones,

Cockroach, mockroach, it was a puppet,

It wasn’t me, it was Teté,

the one who did it”

*edited from–see citation below


This was performed by a student at the University of Southern California who comes from a Mexican/Catholic household. She went on to describe this as song “sort of like the ‘inny, miny, moe, except in Spanish.”  Her dad had taught it to her when she was a kid and remembers using it before she would play Freeze tag or other games with her family and friends.


This was performed when talking about childhood. There was a discussion happening about how growing up as first generation Mexican/Mexican American was different in California as compared to Arkansas. The song was brought up at this moment, but recorded at a later date.


This sorting song is very interesting. I had only ever heard it from my own parents, so hearing the differences caught my attention. The student says “que ese merito fue” as the last line of the song. However, other versions, including my own, end with “pegale, pegale, que ese merito fue.” The difference between these two is the “pegale, pegale” which translates to “hit (him/her), hit (him/her).” This difference might have to do with the student’s parents being highly religious, as noted through my interactions with her. Encouraging to harm another person would not have fit within her household.

The song itself has little actual meaning. The words rhythmically go together well and are structured so that it is easy to point at people on each syllable (like other sorting songs). It is also interesting that towards the end, it sounds like someone is accusing someone else of whatever action got the song started. For example, the “pegale, pegale, que ese merito fue” can alternatively be translated to “hit him, hit him, because he did it.” The blame ends up falling on whoever was pointed at last.


Songs and Rhymes from Mexico “Tin marin de does pingue.” Retrieved from Mama Lisa’s World “International Music and Culture.” website.

Cops and Robbers

Main Piece:

In person interview. AM is the interviewee. LJ is me, the interviewer.

LJ: Can you describe how you play?

AM: Oh there’s six of us, so we would all split up. Three people would be cops and three would be robbers. And, um, it would be like hide and seek, like if you were a cop you kindof’ had to tackle the robber and that’s how the game would end. And yea…

LJ: Who taught you how to play?

AM: Um…I don’t remember…probably my cousin, they were older than me.

LJ: Would the winner get anything?

AM: The winner? Let me think. We would just switch, there wasn’t a prize or anything. We would just switch.

LJ: But was there an “oh I won” moment?

AM: Um…for like the guys, it was a bigger deal. So like my brother and my two cousins would be like “ohhh” and throw it in your face. When me and my girl cousins would win, we were just like “ok.” Haha.

LJ: How often would y’all win?

AM: We didn’t really care if we won, so we lost most of the time.

LJ: Haha. How often would you play?

AM: We played after school. I remember playing between 5th grade and 8th grade-ish–when all six of us went to the same school.

LJ: Where did you play?

AM: We would play outside of my cousin’s house. Or in their backyard, they had a big back yard.


This was brought up at a meeting, but I asked at her about it at a later date.


The participant is a first year student at the University of Southern California. She was raised in South Central, Los Angeles around the university in a Mexican household.


This caught my attention, because I had only heard of “Cops and Robbers” from television. It is interesting how this game is played in a community that primarily consists of people of color and which has had a high crime rate for the past couple of decades. That it is more of a hide and seek game was also interesting. I assume–although I should have asked–that the robbers would hide, while the cops would seek.

Typically, the male cousins wanted to win, as seen in the transcription above, while the girls were more interested in just playing. Perhaps this has to do with gender norms. If further study was done, I would observe children playing this game now and how/if the interactions have changed. It may help normalize male and female  interactions within the community. The participant played this game around the time of middle school, when many children are going through puberty. Perhaps it helped transition the participant and her cousins into teen years by allowing time away from the changes happening in middle school through this fun, competitive game.

Genesis/Christian Story

Main Piece:

The following was recorded from Participant/interviewee. She is marked as MJ. I am marked as LJ.

MG: So on the first day….God created land. Second day, I think he…separated waters. Anyways! On everyday he did something different–the celesital stars, animals…On the sixth day, he created humans and the seventh he rested. I just know the story of that…and um..and the story that one day he noticed that Adam was alone…he was just surrounded by animals, here and there. So he just said “I’ll make him a companion.” While he was sleeping, he used a bone…or..he used something from Adam to create Eve. Hence we have Adam and Eve.

And then it was Eve who was tempted by a snake. Serpent I think–either, or. And so, God had told both Adam and Eve, “you can eat from any tree in this garden, from any! Just do not eat from this one.” And the pointed at–well I don’t know if he actually pointed. Hahaha. But he made obvious a certain tree. An apple that you were not supposed to eat from. And so one day, Eve was tempted by a snake to eat from the apple, I mean tree. Eve said “no, God told us not to.” And then he said, “you should. God just doesn’t want you to be as great as him. He doesn’t want you to know as much.” And so she was tempted, and so she ate from the apple. She then turned to Adam, who also ate from the apple. And together they were….they were punished, kindof’. And hence God said, woman will cry at birth, your eyes will be open. And then that’s when they started hiding, because they had been naked this whole time, but thye hadn’t noticed. And so eating from the Tree of Wisdom opened their eyes and nothing was ever the same.

LJ: How did you first learn about it?

MG: Um, from my first communion classes. That was the story they told us. Oh that’s not true. I had heard about it from my parents, I think. My parents were involved in a religious group. And that’s when I started reading the bible. But the story has always been re-iterated in the same manner.



Participant and I were walking at night on the way to an event. This conversation was recorded then.


The participant is a second year student at the University of Southern California. She was raised in Santa Ana, California in a Mexican/Catholic background.


This is the common Genesis/Adam and Eve story that most Americans know. It was discussed in the Myths section of the the class Forms of Folklore with Professor Tok Thompson. It does not have the formal speech found in the actual bible and in other versions (see below), however, it is very familiar. The apple and snake (which are not mentioned in the bible, but are here) are examples of how folklore shifts between the authored and non-authored spheres.

The participant internalized this information at a very young age, having grown up in a religious household and because her parents were actively involved in the Church. It would be interesting to compare her recount of the story with someone who was not raised Catholic or with someone who is non-religious (i.e Atheist).

Freeze Tag

Main Piece:

The Participant/Interviewee is marked as MG. I am marked as LJ.

MG: If we got to be outside, we played freeze tag. Which would take verrrryy long. And it would be fun, we would be sweating.

LJ: What were the rules?

MG:The rules would be, you count to 20, and then you run. There’s one person who tags the rest. So that person counts to 20 and then everyone else runs around, usually in the backyard or wherever you are. So if that person tags you, you have to freeze. And the only way to get untagged is for another runner to come tag you. And that’s it.

LJ: Who taught you?

MG: Mmmm…maybe my cousins. Um, they might have learned…since they were a bit older. Everyone was older, except my girl cousin.


Participant and I were walking at night on the way to an event. This conversation was recorded then.


The participant is a second year student at the University of Southern California. She was raised in Santa Ana, California in a Mexican/Catholic background.


This game is played by a lot of American children. I remember playing it, as well. Like many other childhood games, it seems that the different “generations” of kids taught each other. MG describes how her older cousins taught her, and that they probably learned it from someone else. These games help children bond and may serve as a way for them to learn social skills without the punishment that may come from interactions with adults/as adults.


Cold Remedies

Main Piece:

The participant/interviewee is marked as MG.

MG: “No salgas con el cabello mojado.” (Don’t go out with wet hair)

“If you wet you feet, you have to take a shower.”

If you go to the beach you have to take a shower…a lot of sayings have to do with getting sick.

LJ: When do you get these? Are their remedies?

MG: They’re about getting…catching the cold or a fever. Um…my mom usually gives me some “vaporu” (Vapor Rub). Hahaha. And like, and then again, because I’m really sick and I didn’t listen the first time, I shouldn’t go outside. And then if I DO go outside, I have to cover up, especially the nasal passages.

Ohhh! There’s like certain things. One of the most recent things that my mom told me, she probably learned it from the radio. Its vinger…apple cider vinegar. If you do garggles, then that kinda clears up your throat.

LJ: Do they make you feel better?

MG: Mmmm….it’s not really a quick result. So if you keep doing it, it helps. Hahaha But it might just be that over time you get better.



Participant and I were walking at night on the way to an event. This conversation was recorded then.


Marisol: The participant is a second year student at the University of Southern California. She was raised in Santa Ana, California in a Mexican/Catholic background. She has two older siblings and lives in a two parent household.


There are many Mexican sayings about how to avoid being sick. MG touched on a few of these. However, she received all of them from her mother. Indicating that perhaps her mom is the more caring parent or the one that spends the most time with the children.

Within the interview, MG mentioned “vaporu” an American-made topical gel intended to help with minor diseases, like the common cold. It is common remedy within the Mexican community. There are several articles/memes about how often it is used. The participated acknowledged understanding the context of it by laughing.

Although the participant takes these remedies, she also sees that they may only be helping her mentally–as a placebo affect. This is a way in which traditional/folk knowledge intersects with academic/scientific knowledge. What she has learned as a student in the United States, allows her to question the validity of these remedies.