Informant: “I’m so hungry I could eat a corpse and chase the mourners.”
The informant is a young man who comes from suburban Mission Hills, San Diego and describes himself as relatively “quiet and introverted” and “nerdy” as well as very involved in politics. The informant is a sophomore neuroscience major at USC and works in a neuroscience image and understanding lab, which focused on visual research.
The informant heard this metaphor when he was about 14 years old as a freshman in high school from a photography teacher. The informant described this teacher as very eccentric, with a “very unique” and hilarious personality who would say this metaphor in a very happy way. The informant says that because of this, he associates the saying with something positive and likes to use it himself. Additionally, the informant stated, “we had his class right before lunch and sometimes he would say ‘oooh (raised vocal inflection) I’m so hungry, I could eat a corpse and chase the mourners,’ and start hustling down the stairs.” The informant likes this saying because “it is just so bizarre ” and it just stuck in my mind because “he said it a lot and it was said in such a fantastic way.”
The informant does not know exactly what saying is suppose to mean, but the informant thinks that perhaps it means that the speaker is so hungry they could eat a corpse and then would still be hungry enough to chase the mourners to eat them as well. However, the informant also pointed out that “because there are mourners the corpse must still be fresh.” Ultimately, he thinks the saying is just supposed to be bizarre.
This is a somewhat unique variant of the “I’m so hungry I could eat a ___” folk metaphors. Typically the blank is filled with something like a cow, a horse, some other large animal, or a mass quantity of food such as 1000 hamburgers. This variant on the other hand, refers to cannibalism and death. The change in the normal usage is slightly disconcerting and creates a form of death-humor paradox as the metaphor becomes humorous when it is so unexpected.