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.