Main Piece: Luna

The following was an interview of a Participant/interviewee about a folk riddle that is passed within his community. He is marked as AO. I am marked as DM.

AO: Les voy hacer una adivinanza. Quiero que me digan una palabra de cuatro letras que cuando le quitan una letra queda una.

DM: I don’t know. No puede ser porque si le quitas una letra no mas queda tres letras es impossible.

AO: No si hay. Queres ver?

DM: Si a ver.

AO: Mira la palabra es L-U-N-A (writes down luna on paper). Si le quitas una letra (crosses out L) queda U-N-A.


AO: I am going to tell you guys a riddle. I want you to tell me a word that has four letters and when you take one letter away one is left.

DM: I don’t know. It’s impossible because if you take one away you are left with three.

AO: Yes there is away. Want to see?

DM: Yes, lets see.

AO: The word is M-O-O-N (writes it down on paper). If you take away one letter (crosses out M), one is left.


The participant is 56 years old. He grew up in Mexico City, Mexico. Alberto, who is marked as AO, is my grandpa. When I was growing up, my grandpa loved to tell me and my sisters jokes or riddles. He would tell us it helped us develop a different way of thinking. This joke only works in Spanish since it a wordplay riddle. The word “luna” means moon and the word “una” means one, but “una” is also the last three letters of the word “luna”. The riddle is to find a word that when you take away one letter “una”, “una” is left meaning taking away one letter, which is the L in “luna” leaves “una”. Below is a conversation I had with AO for more background/context of the joke, which was originally in Spanish.

DM: Why do you know/ like this riddle?

AO: I like to tell this riddle because I want to make people think. The word was also very popular in Mexico.

DM: Where and from who did you learn this riddle from?

AO: I learned this joke in Mexico from my brother, Gavino.

DM: What does this riddle mean/ signify to you?

AO: Telling jokes or phrases that make people think was a tradition in Mexico. Also, since there was no internet or tv in my time, this was a way to pass time. Telling stories, jokes, riddles was a game or form entertainment to us.

Analysis/ My Thoughts:

Every time I heard this joke I never thought about it as a way to pass time or a game. I think it is important to know that at one point riddles were a form of entertainment in some communities. The fact that people in Mexico would sit around telling each other proverbs, jokes, and riddles that learn from their families and to not think about it as folklore is amazing. The fact that one daily conversation can turn into something that will last forever.