Category Archives: folk metaphor

The Pineapple Story

Text: The Pineapple Story (Filipino Myth)

Context: My informant told me that the story is of a mother and daughter living together. The daughter Pina was very lazy. One day, the mom was busy doing work outside their house. She asked Pina to cook lunch for both of them. When Pina went to do so, she had to ask her mother where things were. every time she needed something, she didn’t know where it was in their own kitchen. After that, the mother became annoyed and wished her daughter had a lot of eyes like a pineapple. That way, her daughter would at least know where everything is. The next day, the mother noticed a pineapple had grown outside their house. She also noticed her daughter was missing. Then she remembered what she said and realized the pineapple was her daughter.

She interprets this story as a lesson to be more hardworking, and to be less lazy because it is important to contribute to helping your family. This story is something that she’s told to her own children and has heard it from her own family. 


This Filipino folklore is a tale and myth. As it is a story that does not really get questioned, because a girl did not really turn into a pineapple. But it is also a myth because it gives an easier reason to understand that children should respect their parents and their elders. 

It is a family story with a lesson and a punishment. With the context provided by my informant, it does not seem to be something to believe that pineapples really come from a mother wishing that her daughter would become a fruit. But rather as a tale to respect your elders and to work harder. The daughter was very lazy and disrespectful to her mother. And as a result she was cursed, or in other words it was her punishment. Filipino culture and Asian cultures in general tend to have a heavy focus on respecting their elders. There are a lot of customs and polite actions and mannerisms in place for the young to pay respects to the previous generations.

Rice For The After-Life

Nationality: Chinese/Vietnamese
Primary Language: English
Other language(s): Mandarin, Cheo Chow (Chinese Dialect)
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: LA, California
Performance Date: 3/24/2024


My informant, AC, is a friend of mine from my freshman year at USC from Los Angeles, California. I talked with her about her parents one day whilst we took a break from working on a project together. I recalled a moment where she got mad about not finishing a plate full of just rice, and she told me a story about her mother’s rants about rice in her past. She mentioned that her mom would scold her for not finishing her rice at home and she said that her mother gave a rather spiritual reason than the reason I originally thought. So I questioned her about it further and this is what she told me:


“My mom used to tell me that for every grain of rice I didn’t finish, it would come back to haunt me in the afterlife. She explained to me as a child that the grains of rice I didn’t finish would turn into worms I would be forced to eat once I died and went into the afterlife. She used to tell me this: ‘Carry your weight of grain or be crushed by the burden of consumed destiny.’ I didn’t really know what to think of it, I mean even now it alarms me yeah, but it’s not something I would personally just blindly believe. Spooky though.”


In my research of this topic, I at first didn’t really find anything. I had to really dig, as AC didn’t give much more information about the topic she described because she claims she couldn’t really remember much else. So, because of her ethnic background and cultural history, I decided to ask around to other friends with similar backgrounds and cultures and with the help of them and the internet once I knew what I was searching for, I found this: Apparently, there is a cultural belief related to rice in some Southeast Asian and East Asian cultures, particularly in the Philippines, Indonesia, and parts of China and Japan, known as “Bangaan” or “Bunao.” This belief revolves around the idea that rice grains should not be wasted, as doing so can result in punishment in the afterlife. According to this belief, when rice grains are wasted or thrown away, they turn into worms or insects that represent the spirit of the rice. These worms are believed to haunt the person who wasted the rice, and in the afterlife, the person may have to eat these worms as a form of punishment or purification. The concept itself reflects the cultural value placed on rice as a staple food and the importance of not wasting resources. It is also tied to traditional agricultural practices, where rice was seen as a sacred crop and wasting it was considered disrespectful to the deities or spirits associated with rice cultivation. I am amazed by this concept and especially that metaphor, I mean wow, it has such meaning behind its spookiness. I personally have never heard of this and when doing further research on this I ended up learning that this concept and belief has been native to South-East Asian communities for centuries. This belief even ties into the idea of polytheism, that being that gods of rice existed and were worshiped in certain cultures like in the Philippines and certain areas of China. I found this information to be very intriguing, especially how these types of stories and cultural and religious beliefs continue to spread to this day.

Armenian Love


Romanization of Armenian: Dzhigyart utem

Direct Translation: “I’ll eat your liver.”


KT: It’s an expression of strong love, usually said to a child. I think it’s kind of similar to the English phrase “I could eat you right up.” 

KT has only heard the phrase said between family members, though he has no idea where it could have originated from.


Cuteness aggression is an odd but well-documented phenomenon. Common examples are loving a pet so much you want to squeeze it even though you would never hurt it. It is interesting that similar phrases have developed in many languages around the world. In Turkish, the translated phrase is the same and used in the same context. In Tagalog, the phrase “gigil” which means something is cute but refers specifically to the action of gritting your teeth because a baby is so cute.

Snake in the Henhouse


RW: In the American South, the expression “there’s a snake in the henhouse” mean someone in your group is toxic or not a good person.


RW heard the expression from her grandmother who was born and raised in rural Georgia. She doesn’t know where the expression came from, but assumes it was from farmers who lost chickens to snakes and other predators.


The American South is rich with phrases and expressions that mean something completely different than their literal definition. A common example of this is “bless your heart” which can be a genuine endearment in some parts of the south and an insult in others (in RW’s case, it was viewed as an insult). This is especially interesting because the language and region that makes up what is now known as the American South is fairly young. Despite this, it seems folk expressions are a common and necessary part of language and communication in the South.

“Pride feels no pain”

Text: “Pride feels no pain.”

Minor Genre: Proverb


L explained, “This proverb came down from my great-grandmother on my mother’s side. It was a saying among Southern women, maybe just ladies in general. The context was that you had to put up with pain for beauty; your looks were associated with how proud you were and how you presented yourself.

“Every time my mother brushed my hair when I was little, there were always tangles, and she would say, ‘Be quiet. Pride feels no pain.’”


The proverb “pride feels no pain” has a fairly straightforward meaning regardless of context: it implies that behaving in a manner that fills you with pride is enough to overcome any discomfort you may feel as a result of such actions. It reminds me of the phrase “beauty is pain,” which more directly relates to the idea that discomfort is an inherent part of beauty –– and that pain is a worthy price to pay to feel beautiful. In comparing the two phrases, considering “beauty is pain” as perhaps the more modern counterpart to “pride feels no pain,” it is interesting to consider the implied difference between the words “pride” and “beauty.” The word “pride” carries a more negative connotation for the person it describes, hinting that it is hubris that really disguises pain, while the word “beauty” seems to be used as more of an attribute for a person, and it is the attainment of the attribute that can be a negative experience.