Tag Archives: pig

One Legged Pig Joke

Here is a transcription of my (CB) interview with my informant (AH).

AH: “So I heard this from my dad, but I don’t know where he heard it. There’s this delivery guy and he’s making his normal rounds, but he has to go out to this really rural part of town to deliver this package. It’s a big ranch house and there’s a huge yard, and there’s pigs out and dogs out, it’s just absolutely gorgeous. So he walks up to the house and there’s a pig pen off to the side and he notices that there’s a pig out there with only one leg.”

CB: “Only one leg?”

AH: “Only one leg. And he thought ‘well that’s odd’. So he goes to the door to deliver the package and he asks the guy ‘hey what’s with the pig that has only one leg?’ 

And the guy looks at him and goes ‘See that pig right there! Let me tell you about that pig! THAT pig ran into my house and saved my WHOLE family when it was burning down. And we’ve rebuilt everything now, but he saved my entire family’s life’

And the guy says, ‘that’s cool, but why does he only have one leg?’

And then the man looks at him and he says, ‘Let me tell you about that pig right there. That pig saved my daughter from being eaten by a rattlesnake.’

And he says, ‘That’s awesome, but why does he only have one leg?’

And he says, ‘Let me tell you about THAT pig right THERE. It was the middle of the night and a wolf was coming down the mountains to eat my animals, and THAT pig right there chased that wolf all the way up the mountain saving my entire livestock.’

And he was like, ‘That’s GREAT. But WHY does he only have one leg?’

And the old man looks at him dead in the eye, and he says, ‘Well it’d be a shame to eat him all at once wouldn’t it?’ ”

CB: [Laughs] “Um… That’s great. What do you think the meaning of the joke is?”

AH: “Uh… uh don’t get rid of a good thing”

CB: “What do you think that it’s important to share that joke?”

AH: “Well it’s important because it teaches you how to properly eat a pig without killing it.” [Laughs]

My informant told me this joke, even though we had both heard one particular member of our family repeat it many times. The joke plays on a dark sense of humor that he is known for, and has become very heavily associated with that relative.

My informant called me with stories prepared after hearing that I had been interviewing other members of our family for folklore. We had a fun and casual conversation, exchanging versions of stories that we had heard growing up.


My informant, and her father who told her the joke, grew up in Salinas, CA. Salinas has grown to be a decent sized city, however it is still surrounded by a huge agricultural community. This joke reflects tensions that are common in modern agricultural communities; a separation between the ‘city folk’ and the ‘country folk’. This joke mocks the farmer for their stereotypical behavior, and satirizes his choice to eat his livestock. By having the farmer eat such a clearly intelligent and amazing pig, the joke portrays him as ‘uncivilized’ and out of touch with modernly accepted behaviors. These ideas represent stereotypes for farming communities, and highlight the tension within the community.

For another variation of this joke see Doug Mayo’s post “Friday Funny: The Pig with a Wooden Leg” in University of Florida’s IFAS Extension. https://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/phag/2016/01/15/friday-funny-the-pig-with-a-wooden-leg/

Determining Marriages from the Chinese Zodiac Calendar


My informant is a 55 year old woman that immigrated from China to America in her early 30s. She is a mother, a registered nurse, and also a teacher in nursing school. This conversation took place in a hotel one evening, and the informant and I were alone. In this account, she explains the significance behind the Chinese Zodiac calendar in relation how marriages or compatible partners are determined. I asked for the story behind this folklore because I know the Chinese zodiac calendar holds a lot of importance to the informant, for she has discussed it a lot with me in the past. She told me that she doesn’t remember how exactly she learned all of this; rather, it’s so integrated into Chinese culture and talked about so often that it almost seems like common knowledge that everyone will learn one way or another. Because her English is broken, I have chosen to write down my own translation of what she told me (while still trying to stay true to her performance), because a direct transcription may not make as much sense on paper as it did in conversation (due to lack of intonation and the fact that you cannot see her facial expressions or hand motions in a transcription). In this conversation, I am identified as K and she is identified as S.


S: “In China, we have these zodiacs to, um, see what type of animal you are. For example, this year is the Year of the Pig, so everyone born this year will… have the Pig as their zodiac animal. I don’t remember exactly how it works, but, um, like, the Zodiac calendar lines up with the lunar year—everything we do and believe is connected to what point of the lunar year we’re at. So you can see why this zodiac calendar is so important. We even use it to, um, determine marriages. For example, if a person’s zodiac animal is a Chicken, they can’t marry someone who’s a Dog because chickens and dogs always fight in real life; symbolically, this means that these two, if they get married, will fight for the rest of their lives. Eventually, all of this fighting will break their marriage. Basically we turn to the zodiac calendar to look at, uhh, compatibility. Before Chinese people couples get married, they want to look at each others zodiacs and then look at this other thing called a ‘huang li,’ which determines which years and days they should get married.”


K: “Who else can’t get married?”


S: “I know that Pigs are considered perfect matches with Tigers, but, um, though I honestly can’t tell you why. I do know that Pigs, in Chinese culture, represent wealth, riches, and, like, will bring lots of happiness, so most people want to marry someone who’s zodiac animal is the year the Pig. People also want to get married the Year of the Pig, and especially want to have children the Year of the Pig.



When I was a kid, my parents would always talk about our zodiac animals—my father is a sheep and my mother and I are rabbits. They would always talk about how their love was meant to be because, in the Chinese Zodiac calendar, sheeps and rabbits are considered perfect matches. Because it was so integrated into my childhood, I think I started to take on the characteristics and personality traits that were expected of a “Rabbit.”

After being told this folklore, I looked up what the expected traits of a Rabbit were, and the weaknesses include “timid” and “hesitant”—though I’ve grown out of it now, as I child, I rarely spoke to anyone because I was too nervous. Strengths of a Rabbit include being polite, generous, and responsible, which were all things that I was (and still am) known for among my family, friends, and peers. Because these traits of our Zodiac animals are so true to who we really are, it’s hard not to take these animals so seriously. As I’m getting older, the concept of marriage is becoming more and more relevant, so it’s natural that my Chinese parents, relatives, and the informant (who is also a Chinese relative) are starting to talk about my Zodiac in the context of marriage. Rabbits are apparently extremely compatible with most other Zodiac animals, according to my family, so perhaps that’s why they’re so confused as to why I’m not in a relationship yet/ thinking about marriage yet.


No Pig Was There

Slang: Kein schwein war da

Translation: No pig was there

Full Translation: There was no person there, no one was around or present at that point in time.

Context: This informant is a nineteen year old college student, attending school in the US. However, he lives abroad in a small town in Germany, where he has access to a wide range of German folklore. He also speaks German fluently, which offers him greater understanding of German culture as well.

Background: My informant heard this piece of folk speech used mainly within his village in Germany, but also at times in Frankfurt and other major metropolitan centers, albeit used less frequently. He likes it because it showcases an interesting motif common within German folk-speech, namely, the use of “pig” or pig related objects. To him, the phrase doesn’t necessarily have any significance emotionally, but is rather an important part of his speech – he confessed that he used it often while in Germany.

Analysis: On the surface, this piece of folk speech appears bland. It’s simply a slang term used to ‘spice up’ language. However, I was intrigued by the use of the word “pig” in place of the word person. Pigs were, and to some degree, continue to be a staple of German agricultural life. This piece of folk-speech seems to imply that, at one point, they were so integral to German life that they found their way into common speech. This seems to be backed up by the fact that, in more rural areas, this construct is more common, whilst it is less likely to be used when one is speaking German in more urbanized areas, separated from livestock.

Pig Legend

Informant Background: This individual was born and grew up in Hawaii. His family is of Japanese and Chinese descent. He speaks Japanese and English. His family still practice many Japanese traditions, also many Chinese traditions. They celebrate some of the Japanese holidays. Many of the folk-beliefs and superstitious are still practiced. His relatives who are Japanese lives in Hawaii as well. He currently lives in Los Angeles to attend college.


In Hawaii, there is a tunnel that runs through the mountain. It was a site of battle in ancient Hawaii. It is to be believed that it is full of spirits of the warriors and the chiefs who died in that battle. The one thing you cannot do is bring pork…You can bring anything you want, but not pork. Pork is a big part of a lot of beliefs in Hawaii. Pig in ancient Hawaiian culture is depicted as a pig-god so to bring a dead pig is then to bring the god in dead form to the ghost of the people.  If you bring pork over that tunnel, your car will stop. The way to make it start again is to get rid of the pork somehow like throw the pig out the window. 

The informant stated that this is a knowledge passed to him through his grandparents as he was growing up in Hawaii. He said he never had direct experience with his car stopping but heard from others who forgot to follow the rule and had their engine stopped working.



This legend also shows different beliefs and perspective on how different cultures and places values different animals and objects to be sacred. In this case pig is considered sacred while for Hindus cow is sacred. Though these beliefs seem strange when looking in as an outsider, it plays a large role in the culture.

This legend also shows how the belief transcends generations and technological development through overlapping ancient warrior battle with sacred god-like animal figure with automobile engines. The legend also shows how the believability of the tale can be carried on through a memorate. If one car engine stopped over that tunnel while there is pork in the car, then the legend can continue.

The pig can also be considered as contagious magic. The pig/pork is an object that will be automatically cursed once put into the area. The pig/pork curse can be lifted once the item is discarded; the item is cursed, not the person or car.

Sardinian Pig Finger Game

“It is something that you do with children, with the fingers on one hand and uh, the thumb is the pig. And the other fingers are, ‘one killed the pig’, ‘the other one umm well after you kill the pig you have to pass it on the fire to burn the…the hair, its kind of a strong hair, and then finally the ring finger ate it. But then little pinky who told everyone, you know, spilled the beans, and then he didn’t get any. In Sardinia it goes like that, touching the finger. (The informant repeated this little rhyme in Sardinian). And this is in Sardinian which is the language of the island of Sardinia and the variety that I speak, not very well, but the one that I uhh learned through my maternal grandparents is the variety called Locudorese that is in the north. So I remember my grandmother, Antonina, um you know, playing with us and doing this thing. And it is very Sardinian because you know, that’s what people used to do when propane was scare, was to fatten the pig, typically around Christmas umm they killed it and of course they didn’t throw away anything because they made, you know, prosciutto, sausage, the ears, the feet, everything was used. And umm so this is the process. The fact that after you kill it, you know, the pig has this kind of this strong hair that you have to burn so you pass the pieces of meat on a fire. And it gives off a terrible smell, like when you accidentally burn your nails, because it is basically that same kind of substance. But you have to do it otherwise you can’t eat the meat.”

As the informant stated, he learned this game from his grandmother as a young child. The game relates to the traditional cooking in the region of Sardinia where he grew up. Folklore is born from culture, and eating is very important to a culture, so it makes sense that there are children games that deal with food and eating. The informant placed a lot of  importance on the process of burning the hair. Possibly this is because he remembers the distinct smell and the unique process, or because it is a foreign idea to me, as the collector, so he spent extra time on it. He also said later that the reason that the pinky-finger didn’t get any meat was because he spilled the beans about the feast, and when people hear about someone cooking pig in the village, that person has to share. This demonstrates the community ties of a small village such as the one where the informant grew up. They would share meals because such luxuries (like pig) were rare.  He says that this was a game he played when he was very young. It allowed him to bond with his grandmother, reaffirm his local cultural traditions, and partake in childhood games. Playing with the fingers instead of the toes allows the game to continue into later childhood, because it is less weird for someone to touch your fingers than your toes.

This little finger game reminds me of a similar game we play with babies and children. The version I remember goes, “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none, and this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home”. And instead of touching the fingers, starting with the thumb, you touch the toes, starting with the big toe. This game reminds me of playing with children and making them giggle. The pinky seems to be a funny finger/toe, always getting into trouble or doing something silly. The game also helps children connect with their bodies, which they need to do in the early stages of life. I think it’s interesting that the Sardinian version talks about cooking pigs, while the version I know talks about buying beef at the market. It reflects the difference in culture, because here we rarely cook our food from scratch, while that is more common in rural Sardinia. It should also be noted that the informant said the Sardinian version, but I didn’t want to attempt to spell (or misspell) his words phoenetiallay. However, I included his  translations.