Category Archives: Riddle

Mexican Riddles

  1. “Agua pasa por mi casa,

cate de mi corazón.

El que no lo adivinara,

será un burro cabezón.”

2. “Chocó entre dos paredes,

late mi corazón,

quién no sepa mi nombre es un cabezón.”

English Translation: 

  1. “Water passes through my house,

drink from my heart

The one who doesn’t guess it,

will be a big-headed donkey.”

2. “I collide between two walls,

my heart beats,

whoever doesn’t know my name is a big head.”

The informant explains that she learned of these riddles from her grandmother, and heard them many times in Mexico. She was only 5 years old when she first heard of them and when she was first given the riddle, she guessed it wrong. They told her again and emphasized the necessary words so she was able to figure it out. She would ask people in her 5th-grade class about it but most did know it despite its popularity in Mexico. She taught her brothers the riddle when she was older.

These riddles seem to use a lot more vivid imagery compared to other riddles. It utilizes a unique way to figure out the riddle where it deals mainly with hidden words sprinkled throughout the sentences. Other riddles typically have hidden meanings but they utilize hints and clues in order to help solve it but this riddle has to do with the words you hear. Some have attributed the riddles as a way of being able to teach vocabulary in Spanish as it introduces new words and words that are not always featured together.

Joke/Riddle:How do you say pollo in English? And how do you say repollo in English?

Context: D also introduced me to this Spanish joke that they had learned from her childhood friends. D explained that “pollo” is chicken in Spanish, and “repollo” is cabbage in Spanish, so the joke is that people would answer chicken for the first question, and then rechicken for the second question. They told me that the joke would only make sense to people who were bilingual in both English and Spanish since it plays off of the similarities of both Spanish words and their English translations.

Analysis: After D explained the joke to me, I found it quite funny even though they thought it was silly since it was just a stupid joke they played on each other in grade school. It’s interesting how language works with jokes because they sometimes don’t work when translated. This actually reminded me of a joke that I heard from a family friend of mine that only bilingual people who speak both Mandarin and English would understand. You put up four fingers and ask the person what word you are putting up and they will usually respond with “four”. Then you bend your four fingers down and ask them again what word you are putting up and they usually get stumped, so you tell them that it’s “won-der-ful” putting emphasis on the “won” and pronouncing the “ful” similar to four. This is because the “won” sounds a lot like the mandarin word for bend is “弯”, so together it’s roughly translated to “bent four”. 

Plane dead

Q: Ok so do you have the joke or riddle or what is it.

R: Its a riddle

Q: Wait so where did you hear it?

R: I heard it in Southern California at a summer Camp I was at

Q: ok so what is the riddle

R: Ok so there is a cabin in the woods and there are 26 people dead inside. There are no track coming or going from te cabin, what happened?

Q: Um maybe it snowed and the snow melted

R: No

Q: Was it an accident or were they murdered

R: It was an accident

Q: They were there a long time

R: Maybe but that doesnt matter 

Q: I dont know, what happened

R: It was the cabin of a plane and they died in a crash

Context: As the informant said this was collected at summer camp at middle school age in southern California. 

Analysis: This joke definitely came into being after the invention of airplanes and so post 1903 for sure although most likely further after that. As well, this is a joke that makes me think immediately about the genre of dark humor. This is something discussed in great detail in Peter Narvaez in his book Of Corpse. His analysis of the timeline of when it is appropriate to tell a joke like this is interesting to me as I know someone who’s father died in a plane accident and would be highly offended if they heard this joke. On the other hand I know people like Pete Davidson who gets jokes made about his father dying on 9/11 and laughs along. In this regard it would seem to be a personal thing and how each individual deals with trauma.

Knock-Knock Joke with a twist

Background: A traditional American Joke with a prequel to build up the punchline.

Person1: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Person2: “I don’t know, why did the chicken cross the road?”
Person1: “To get to the idiot’s house”

Person1: “Knock-Knock!”
Person2: “Who’s there?”
Person1: “The chicken”

Informant: This is a cruel joke that I was the unfortunate victim of in my youth.

Analysis: As a non-American, this is the first knock-knock joke that I found funny. Knock-knock jokes are usually meant for children and the informant confirmed that they heard about this from their elementary school friend when they were young

Band Riddle

Background: The Informant was a band member in high school. The riddle was told by the band teacher.

Q: What music instrument never tells the truth?
A: A lyre.
My band teacher told us this riddle during rehearsal. I didn’t find it funny at the time. It’s pretty much a dad joke.

The instrument has the same pronunciation as the word “liar”. This riddle requires knowledge in the music field, which also explained the occasion and audience of the riddle.