Tag Archives: folk phrase

Coincidence? I think not!

“70% of the earth is water and 70% of the body is water. Is that a coincidence? I think not!”

Context: The informant is originally from Illinois and is now a junior at USC. According to her, on the first day back from winter break, her freshman year Spanish teacher asked the class if any of them knew what the second longest river in South America was. He pulled down one of those roll-up maps of South America and instead of explaining what the second longest river was, proceeded to go on a very long philosophical rant about astrology, during which the above quote was said. He continued talking (going wildly off topic), until eventually, he returned to his desk without telling them anything about the river, leaving the class very confused.

Now, with a subset of the informant’s friends who took the class, the phrase is used whenever anyone mentions anything related to a body, water, coincidence, or the phrase “i think not”. Despite the context of the conversation, this has developed into an inside joke, partially as a continuous mockery of the teacher, and partially as a remembrance of what the informant referred to as “the good old days”.

Analysis: Honestly, nothing brings a group together better than a common enemy. The inside joke created provides a reminder of shared experiences, moving beyond the context of the class to become a reminder of high school entirely.

However, the real value of this collection comes from the use of, “Coincidence? I think not!” which seems to be a traditional phrase consistently appended to the end of other sentences. The true relevance comes from the consistent use of this with no real knowledge of its origin. From quick research, the internet marks its origin as a quote from the 2004 movie “The Incredibles”, but from conversation with others and further research, it seems as if it has been used long before this (another internet forum notes that it was used in a movie from 1984). Attempts to date the phrase result in a terminus ante quem situation, in which it seems as if had to have been said before 2005, but nobody knows where it was originated or how it was popularized.

Slogan: “Two lines, one stripe, 干!”

Text: “两横,一竖,干!”
Pinyin (Simplified): liang heng, yi shu, gan
Translation: Two horizontal, one vertical, fight!

G is a Chinese international student from Anhui Province, Hefei City in China. During high school, he played in a soccer team.
G: “It’s about my soccer team in high school. It’s what we do before game. It’s a like slogan that we do before a game. Every player comes and together to form a circle and we put our hands together and we yell it. And the slogan goes “两横,一竖,干!” It’s not really a good translation, it’s like fighting but not in a good way. We’re using it positively but not in a good way. It’s almost near “f**k” but it’s a positive way we’re using it.”

There is an interesting juxtaposition to be mentioned with the positive denotation of such a negatively connoted word in this chant. This folk phrase, or folk chant is said for good luck and to release tension. It invokes a feeling of unity and comradery between players, which completely changes the meaning of the word in this specific context and therefore, changes the tone of the chant. On the surface level, it is merely a saying that describes how to write the word “干“ in Mandarin. The word itself, as G describes, means something negative and almost taboo whenever spoken aloud in a social setting different from this one. Perhaps because of the presence of the specific competitive sport team-player like atmosphere and tension about competing at all, this phrase seems to take the aggression of the phrase and repurpose into a chant of good luck and release of nerves. The act of doing it with fellow team members joins this community together and that they have something to share strengthens their bond. The meaning changes once it is uttered aloud in this context, making this folklore exclusive to this group of people and therefore only understandable to those who can understand the context that it is said in. This phrase has the exclusive purpose of bringing good luck and releasing tension similar to that of a charm.

Phrase: “A Senior is Half a Teacher”

Text: “一个学长,半个老师”
Pinyin (Simplified): yi ge xue zhang, ban ge lao shi
Translation: One senior is half a teacher.

N is a junior at USC, majoring in Communications. N is an international student from China, Anhui Province. When N was a high school student, he was in a soccer team on campus which is the community he refers to in this phrase.
N: “There’s this sort of tradition, more like a phrase. The phrase is ‘一个学长,半个老师’ (yi ge xue zhang, ban ge lao shi). It’s like, ‘a senior is equal half a teacher, or half a coach. It’s part of a tradition in my soccer team when a junior would just, like, make the freshmen do whatever they want them to do. That’s just a tradition, I guess.”
Is that like a criticism of experience?
N: “I think it’s because in China, the people who go to sports, they don’t need to have really good grades. They just go to high school or college with their sports, they just go to practice. They’re more like a street gang, like a clique. So, because they’re bad, they want to control the people who are new.”

This phrase is circulated throughout the students. It isn’t a proverb which relays some form of wisdom or life lesson to the listener and it is also not a joke, as there is no humor behind the reality of the statement. It observes a complex power dynamic and metaphorically summarizes it in a concise way, likely as a call to how unfair such a hierarchy is and an acknowledge about the inevitability of its insistence in the school system. It’s a stereotype of athletes at this school widely known and accepted by the students, a blason populaire of this community of soccer players. Such speech is usually created by an external audience, the students who are not in the soccer team themselves but are familiar with it. When asked why the juniors bully the lower classmen, the answer could be this phrase. It is a lighthearted observation of the corruption and power play at school and its unfair treatment of the students, so much so that N associates this phrase with his specific team. Simultaneously, it encourages no revolt against such a system, already knowing full well the impossibility of change that could come from speaking up. This acceptance adds to the stereotype, almost perpetuating its truth.

Winning or Losing, English or Japanese, just shout “Let’s Go, Justin!”

Main Performance:

Not pictured/heard: The audience absolutely losing it

NC: I think it was in 2004 that happened, you know Moment 37

YJ: The Daigo parry?

NC: Yeah and you hear someone in the audience go, “Let’s go Justin!”

YJ: What about it?

NC: I was studying tech on the videos on twitter last week and saw someone shout it during another tournament match.

YJ: So?

NC: It was in Japanese, dude. There wasn’t even a guy named Justin playing, they just say that whenever something exciting happens.


The informant is my friend, NC, who I have spent an inordinate amount of time together with playing fighting games and going to tournaments around the country with. The particular bit he heard was from a twitter-video. The Moment 37 and Daigo parry that was mentioned refers to a particular match between two incredibly talented fighting game players Justin Wong, representing America and Daigo Umehara, representing Japan. Both their characters are at incredibly low life and Daigo’s character is a slight breeze from losing the match, even blocking an attack would lose him the round. Justin Wong realizes this and goes in with a super-move, a 15 hit attack that will surely kill Daigo’s character, as someone else in the background shouts “Let’s go Justin!”. Instead of dying however, Daigo’s character performs a frame perfect parry, pressing the buttons at the exact time Justin’s character lands their kicks on his own character. 15 frame perfect parries later, Justin is defeated and the crowd, who at this point were already losing their minds, erupts in an an even louder cheer.


I asked NC if there were any “cultural” phenomena within our preferred entertainment medium and we recalled an exchange we had about this particular incident a couple years ago.

My Thoughts:

Even when Justin Wong was the one who lost the match in a spectacular fashion and even when there could possibly be no Japanese person traditionally named Justin in Japan, the phrase itself has gained an iconic status even among the Japanese who were in attendance watching the match in 2004. It feels hilarious to me that the name in the phrase was inconsequential to the emotions that were present when the phrase was uttered. Moreso than ever with the proliferation of internet culture and archived footage of old events, new generations of video-game players can see with their own eyes of what happened in years past. However, the expansion of social media and owned content as also made it so that longer videos of events are not often caught on camera and while it is easily shared between others some content or entire accounts with videos become terminated for a variety of reasons such as proper ownership and the likes. Moment 37 has since become a legend on its own where something of its difficulty in a tournament setting has not been replicated since and the rising industry of E-sports has seemingly come to “own” these types of content. Daigo hismelf and his story beyond this single moment has been published into a serialized comic book series.

For anyone curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzS96auqau0

“Hotty Toddy” Ole Miss Greeting

Main Piece: 

Informant: Hotty Toddy is a saying that represents an Ole Miss rebel. 

Interviewer: What does the phrase mean? 

Informant: Hotty Toddy is a rallying cry, an identifier as to who you are and who you support, it crosses boundaries in ways that only sports and the unconditional love of a team or a college can. If you say Hotty Toddy you are showing your support for the Ole Miss Rebel community

Interviewer: When did you first use or hear the phrase? Do you still use the phrase even though you are no longer a student at Ole Miss?

Informant: I heard the phrase when I first attended Ole Miss and started using it immediately and felt connected to the community. And yes of course! I scream hotty toddy when I am excited or cheering on or complimenting a friend. I will continue to use the phrase for the rest of my life!

Interviewer: When was the last time you said Hotty Toddy or encountered the phrase? 

Informant: Recently in NYC I heard a stranger yell “Hotty Toddy” my way when wearing an Ole Miss hat. I yelled it back and felt an immediate connection. This made the large city feel smaller because I knew my Ole Miss family extended to NYC as well. 

Background: The informant shares that she learned the saying from peers and word of mouth from her time studying at Ole Miss. She explains the phrase represents a community around the school. The phrase is used as a greeting. She used the phrase as a student and continues to use the phrase in different scenarios. 

Context: The information was collected between informant and interviewer as an interview recalling times the phrase was used. The informant is a recent graduate to Ole Miss and recalls using the phrase numerous times. 

Thoughts: This saying “Hotty Toddy” has varied meaning and is used in many different scenarios. The phrase is used as a greeting, cheer, or secret message. “Hot Toddy” has changed over time. The first documented evidence of the phrase (then written as “Heighty! Tighty!”) appeared in a November 19, 1926 copy of the student newspaper, The Mississippian. Although originated in sports, the saying has expanded beyond sports and campus connecting the Ole Miss community in weddings, funerals, on social media platforms, and every day life.