Tag Archives: Jinx

Jinx, You Owe Me a Soda

Text:

“Jinx you owe me a soda.”

Background:

If you say the same word or phrase as another person, you would say the phrase shown above to them. Jinx means you aren’t allowed to talk, and you have to give them a soda or they have to say your name three times. My informant said that it means nothing to him, just a game. Fun to play with little kids.

Context:

My respondent recalls learning it as a kid in elementary school, but now he says it when he’s with his little cousins.

Personal Thoughts:

I’m curious to learn more about the origin of this game/saying. I wonder what exactly jinx is referring to, and whether or not it has anything to do with jins.  Otherwise, it seems like a fun little game that kids “play” without getting too serious about it. I’ve personally never see anyone actually follow through with the rules.

Jinxed

This is about a folk belief that my informant has about the notion of acknowledging something, and by acknowledgement causing the situation to change for the worse.

“The only superstition that I only kind of semi believe that I don’t believe at all, but if I were going to believe one this is the closest I come to believing one, is when you say something and acknowledge it you jinx it. Like, when Simon came with a new machine for the credit card, and he said “oh yeah it’s got bigger print and everything so you can read it”, and I said “oh but does it work?” And it didn’t work. Or you go outside and say it’s great weather and then it rains. It’s something about acknowledging it out loud and then all of a sudden it goes away. But I still don’t really believe that. But sometimes I actually don’t say something because I’m afraid if I say it then I will have jinxed it.”

Despite the informant’s protestations that she did not ascribe to this folk belief, she ascribes to it enough that she actively modifies her behavior in order to avoid its potential consequences. It’s expressing the idea that some things are simply too good to occur, and if one acknowledges it then the universe might pay attention and take it away, or perhaps that a stroke of good luck can be removed by acknowledging that one is having it. It’s almost a type of magic, wherein one acknowledges a reality and that acknowledgement will change the existence of that reality.

Jinxing

This piece of folklore came about when I was watching a basketball game with my informant, and the player had gotten fouled and was shooting free throws. The commentator said that this shooter was a “phenomenal free throw shooter, one of the best in the NBA”, and that he had made 16 in a row at this point. My informant looked over at me and said, “he just jinxed him”, and the player wound up shooting and missing the free throw attempt. My informant said “I told you so”, and I asked him what he thought the origins of jinxing were.

My informant told me that he has been familiar with the concept for years, in sporting events, and life events in general. “I’ve learned to never try to predict things, saying that things will be good or that something will happen. I’m afraid of jinxing it” he said. When I asked my informant whether or not he really thought that this piece of folklore was, in a sense, real, he said “you never know”. He told me that more often than not, whenever he feels like he has jinxed something, it usually goes wrong.

My informant told me that he wasn’t sure whether it just felt that way, or if there really was a statistical correlation. He says that he is especially sensitive to jinxing in the world of sports. He says that he never outright says that one team will win, or that a certain player will have a good game if he is rooting for them. He said he just wants to “play it safe” so he doesn’t get frustrated afterwards if things go the opposite way.

He says that sometimes he’ll even try to jinx the team or player that he is rooting against, telling somebody that the team he wants to lose is “going to win”, in hopes that it will jinx the other team. A lot of people believe that it doesn’t work that way, he says, but thinks that he may as well try.

I believe that this piece of folk belief likely dates far back in history, as it seems to be common across the globe and a very common belief. I believe that people believe in jinxing because they only really pay attention to when the jinxing actually works. If a person or team gets jinxed one day, and they end up succeeding anyways, I believe that an individual will not pay as much attention to that event. On the other hand, if a jinx goes through and truly works, I believe a person is more likely to say, “I told you so” or “that always happens”.