ETA Superstition

Nationality: Burmese

Primary Language: Burmese

Other Language(s): English, Chinese

Age: 19

Occupation: Student

Residence: Los Angeles, CA

Performance Date: 02/17/2024

A.N is 19 years old, and is currently a USC student who’s originally from Yangon, Myanmar. She is my current suite mate and has been a friend since middle school, since we are from the same hometown and school. I asked her if she has heard of or is familiar with any tabooistic vocabulary within our culture. 

“One superstition that I remember my mom saying is that we aren’t allowed to say the specific estimated time of arrival, or else we won’t get there on the time mentioned. I first heard that when I was a pre-teen and my family was on a road trip to Ngwe Saung. I asked my mom when we were arriving and she said that she wasn’t allowed to say. She did end up telling me that we can say a more vague description of the ETA, like “evening” but not something as specific as 5 p.m. I remember it clearly because as a kid, I believed it too. Eventually it became a superstition that I try to keep in mind whenever I am answering the same question if someone else were to ask me that.”

As a Burmese person, I can’t say I’ve heard of this tabooistic vocabulary or superstition but I don’t deny its possibility since we have a lot of other superstitions that are just as trivial and non-sensical. A.N states that she is not clear with what the reasoning behind this superstition is but I personally think that it might just be her mom not wanting to give an answer to her child who could start to complain or become impatient. On the other hand, it could be related to our culture of avoiding stating something important, in the chance we might ‘jinx’ ourself. It is our way of holding on to the hope that the outcome, in this situation the ETA, is something that we want it to be.