Author Archives: David Zheng


Context: Z. grew up in Los Angeles and is currently a student at university.

Z: “There is a joke that my family always makes that you know you know the people would always say grace before a meal, someone will always say ‘let’s say grace’ and someone will say ‘grace’ and we will start eating.”

Reflection: I think that this is a great example of how traditions can be adapted and changed for a different purpose. The tradition of saying ‘grace’ before eating was no longer used by the family and is now referred to for comedy and remembrance.

License Plate Game

Context: A is a university student living in the United States. One of her friends at school introduced this game to her, and it has now become a tradition among the friend group. It was initially created to mitigate the boredom of long car rides.

A: “There is a license plate game that we play in college where if you see an out-of-state license plate, you can hit your friend if you call it out first. We usually play this game during car rides or just walking around.”

Reflection: This is a great example of how games are often created to add entertainment to certain activities. Games are a fundamental way communities interact with one another. A lot can be learned about a community through the games that they play. This is one reason that is the case. Games that are developed to combat menial activities give insight into the nature of those activities.


Context: A went to high school in the United States. In high school, A. was on the basketball team. ‘Horse’ is one of the games that people would play to practice shooting the ball.

A: “Horse for basketball. You can play with any number, but mostly with 2. You take turns shooting the ball in the basket, in the same way, the person in front of you did it. If you fail, you get a letter in the horse, if u get all 5 letters, you lose. The goal is the do the weirdest shots possible, so your opponents couldn’t copy it and you win.”

Reflection: This is a good example of how games can be developed and spread within the rule set of an existing game. These games are often played with different rules within different communities, but the general idea of the game stays the same. It is interesting how games can be created with the purpose of practicing skills, and later turn into full games themselves.

Oh Shame

Context: A is a sophomore in university. He grew up in South Africa in a christian family and community. He speaks a mix of Afrikaans and English with his family when he is home.

A: “This is also something said in my extended family.”Foeitog siestog arme kind, môre voel jy beter.” It means like kinda like ‘oh shame’ it means that you feel bad for someone and ‘tomorrow you will feel better’. It’s like a joking semi-aggressive thing if someone is complaining. For minor inconveniences. My grandma would say this to me when I was annoyed. This was spread between my extended family and family friends.”

Reflection: This is a great example of quips and sayings that families will often use among themselves. That is not to say that these sayings are unique to the family, but they are often inherited and spread amongst the family.


Context: A is a sophomore in university. He grew up in South Africa in a christian family and community. He speaks a mix of Afrikaans and English with his family when he is home.

A: “There is a term that I came up with that I have spread and describe a fairly common thing that happens. ‘Gigantis’. So Afrikaans and English have a lot of fo words that sound similar. And oftentimes people will take a word from English and speak it in an Afrikaans accent, like the word gigantic doesn’t really exist in Afrikaans, but I said the word ‘gigantis’ in our church community and later realized that the word doesn’t exist, and it became a joke. I’ve heard others use the word even though it doesn’t exist in our dictionary. It’s a result of bilingual people using English words in that way and turning it into Afrikaans words. There are other words that exist due to the same reason too.”

Reflection: This is a great example of how languages can influence each other and change over time. When multilingual individuals switch between languages and want to express ideas from one language to another, there is often an intermingling of words that creates new ones.