Jinxes: How they work

Informant: So if someone says a word at the same time as you say a word, and they say jinx right after, then you cannot speak until someone says your name three times. There are very strict rules to this, too. If you continue speaking after you say the same word and the other guy says jinx right after, like, say you’re trying to jinx me and I’m saying a sentence, and you jinx me but I continue talking while you say jinx, that counter-acts it.

Also, lemme think. You can’t jinx on a song or a jingle if, like, you’re both singing along or something, or if you’re repeating after someone. If you get in a jinxout, where you both say it at the same time and you keep saying it, you can kinda, um, you can stop the jinx by saying any word during that sequence, like you both say but and then you both say jinx, whoever says a word, that, like, breaks it. I think that’s all the jinx rules. Oh. They gotta say your whole name the same way all three times or it doesn’t count.

Interviewer: Same person has to say it?

Informant: No, anyone can say it.  If three different people say it or if, like, if two people say it and then one person says one syllable and someone else says the other one, you’re, like, you’re still–the jinx is still over ’cause they said it.

Interviewer: What happens if you break the rules?

Informant: I dunno. I haven’t tried yet.  You just, you don’t.  Ahhh, if I do, I’ll tell you, okay?

The sixteen year old interviewer had just been jinxed at a family dinner when this was collected, and the interviewer took that opportunity to ask some questions about the rules surrounding the concept of jinxing as practiced in the informant’s family.  His mother and younger sister are the other major participants.  It seems to be, perhaps, a playful but instructive way for adults to demonstrate basic principles of etiquette and teach a younger person to listen before speaking and perhaps discourage impulsive or disruptive speech.