Pulling Ears

Form of Folklore:  Folk Belief (Protection)

Informant Bio:  The informant was born in Yerevan, Armenia, where she attended a Russian school.  At the age of fourteen she and her family moved to America, where she was formally introduce to the English language and had to continue going to a school where the primary language was English.  She has had exposure to both Armenian (from her youth and family) and American folklore (by living and studying in America).

Context:  The interview was conducted in the living room of informant’s house.

Item:    Armenian Transliteration – “Yerp vor vat bani masin es khosum yerekhayi mot, yerekhu akanju petka kashel”

English Translation – “When you speak about bad things in front of a child, you need to pull the child’s ear”

Informant Comments:  The informant does not really believe that pulling a child’s ear when speaking of bad things will prevent the bad things from happening; not does she believe that not pulling a child’s ear will guarantee that the bad things they are talking about will happen.  She does not actually use this folk protection in her life.  She thinks it is simply something older women (i.e. grandmothers) do so they do not feel bad about saying bad things in front of children.

Analysis:  This folk belief (protection) seems to be based on the idea that twisting a child’s ear is equivalent to taking away what they heard or preventing them from hearing all the bad things that will be said.  It does seem as though this protection is more for the people saying bad things than for the children who may hear the bad things.  It somehow offers a loophole for them to say all of the bad things they want without being condemned for saying them in front of children (offering protection to the speakers instead of the children).  Regardless of why they have this folk belief or who it is intended to protect, people can choose to believe it and do it if they please (under the assumption that the pulling of the ear is not painful).