Jinx Under a Roof


This piece was collected in a casual interview setting in the informant’s back yard. My informant (JP) was born in Lynon, France, and moved to California in 2002 with his wife for their jobs at Caltech. He is a professor of Seismology, enjoys playing tennis and guitar, has two teenage daughters, and loves to sing old French camp songs he learned as a kid. 

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (JP) and interviewer.

JP: Yeah, yeah, yeah, so, my girls, when they were little did this thing, I think they learned it at school, when they said the same word at the same time, they had to say “jinx” and the first girl, uh, who said “jinx,” um, how do you say, she won? And so the loser couldn’t talk until someone else said her name, like, I don’t, know, five times. And if they were under a roof, they had to say “jinx under a roof” and if they said “jinx” alone, they were the one to get “jinxed” so it was her that wasn’t able to speak until we said her name, and it was the other girl who won. It was a whole fiasco at dinner time because they would start YELLING about who said “jinx” first, they did it all the time, they would scream “JINX, JINX” and my gosh the drama it created.  *laughs, a little bitterly*

Interviewer: Where did they learn this? Did you know about “jinx” before?

JP: Um, they must have learned it at school, I think. They were like, in 1st or 2nd grade. I hadn’t heard of “jinx” before they brought it home, it was new to me.


In elementary school, we would play this game at lunch and JP is right, it would truly cause so much drama! Friendships were broken because of this game, especially when you wouldn’t say your friend’s name until they were released from the “jinx.” We learned it from other classmates, who probably learned it from upperclassmen or friends outside of school, and played it in 2nd grade.