Biting your tongue

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 22
Occupation: Geotechnical engineer
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/30/21
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Background: This is a belief the informant has been told by multiple friends and coworkers who are Filipino.

Biting your tongue

KD: So, in the event you bite your tongue, you ask whoever you’re with to give you a letter of the alphabet. So if I bite my tongue and I say okay give me a letter, you say S–somebody that I know whose name starts with S is currently talking about me, could be good, could be bad.

Me: Who did you hear about that from?

KD: It’s a Filipino thing, heard about it from my coworker. Uh, he was explaining various Filipino customs and superstitions.

Me: And do you think about that every time you bite your tongue?

KD: Yeah, it’s something where it’s like that’s just, that’s weird, but like, also like, it makes sense.

Me: And why does it make sense?

KD: Cause, you bit your tongue and it’s bad to bite your tongue and people are talking bad about you.

Context of the performance: This was told to me in an in person conversation.

Thoughts: Although the informant is not Filipino and shares this information from an etic perspective, he believes it and thinks about it every time he bites his tongue. There may be more meaning from an emic perspective, since they would actually be a part of the culture this belief is in. There seems to be a connection between it being the tongue and the belief about the corresponding speech. As a form of synecdoche, the tongue represents speech, and the physical pain of the bit could symbolize a biting remark or pain of talking bad about somebody behind their back. This, however, only makes sense if someone’s speaking ill of you and the pain doesn’t mean anything, but the bite is more of an alert of speech.