Informant: There is this one song in Mexico that everyone knows and everyone sings. It’s really silly but or some reason its very popular. I have been hearing it all my life and all my friends know it but I think the first person I ever heard it from was my grandmother. She would sing it all the time. The song goes something like this:
“La cucaracha, la cucaracha
Ya no puede caminar
Porque le duele, porque le faltan
Las dos patitas de atrás.”
This roughly translates to this:
“The cockroach, the cockroach
Because it hurts, because he’s missing
His both legs from the back.”
Collector: Was there any special ritual or game that went along with singing this song?
Informant: Not really. I think people would just sing it because it was catchy but there was nothing specifically involved with it.
This song seems to be a type of folkloric rhyme that has been passed down through the years. It is interesting that it has no specific meaning or activity involved but is still so popular. That goes to show that folklore thrives on popularity; the more widespread and popular a piece of folklore is, the better chances it has of surviving throughout the years.
I thought that this song was funny and I can understand why such humor would make it so popular. The song is literally about a cockroach that can’t walk because it loses its legs. Even though there isn’t necessarily any meaning to it, it still paints a very vivid image of what is happening. Such imagery is a recurring trend in Mexican folklore; the language gives way to very strong visuals. Such imagery might be part of the song’s appeal.
The informant also mentioned that the first person he ever heard this song from was his grandmother. Moreover, he said that everyone he knew was familiar with the song because of how widespread it was. This would help explain the song’s popularity. If the song is being passed down from parent to child, then it would make sense that the popularity of the song is due to its involvement in family life. In other words, the song may be a source of comfort due to how familiar it is.