Tag Archives: speech

Biting your tongue

Background: This is a belief the informant has been told by multiple friends and coworkers who are Filipino.

Biting your tongue

KD: So, in the event you bite your tongue, you ask whoever you’re with to give you a letter of the alphabet. So if I bite my tongue and I say okay give me a letter, you say S–somebody that I know whose name starts with S is currently talking about me, could be good, could be bad.

Me: Who did you hear about that from?

KD: It’s a Filipino thing, heard about it from my coworker. Uh, he was explaining various Filipino customs and superstitions.

Me: And do you think about that every time you bite your tongue?

KD: Yeah, it’s something where it’s like that’s just, that’s weird, but like, also like, it makes sense.

Me: And why does it make sense?

KD: Cause, you bit your tongue and it’s bad to bite your tongue and people are talking bad about you.

Context of the performance: This was told to me in an in person conversation.

Thoughts: Although the informant is not Filipino and shares this information from an etic perspective, he believes it and thinks about it every time he bites his tongue. There may be more meaning from an emic perspective, since they would actually be a part of the culture this belief is in. There seems to be a connection between it being the tongue and the belief about the corresponding speech. As a form of synecdoche, the tongue represents speech, and the physical pain of the bit could symbolize a biting remark or pain of talking bad about somebody behind their back. This, however, only makes sense if someone’s speaking ill of you and the pain doesn’t mean anything, but the bite is more of an alert of speech.

The Fudgy Wudgy Man

  • Context: The informant (A) is a 15 year old high school student who spends his summers at the Jersey Shore in South New Jersey. He explains a summer job that mainly men, but some women, have that is a staple of South Jersey culture – the Fudgy Wudgy Man. The conversation arose when speaking about what summer jobs for which he should apply. He not only explains the job itself, but the song sung by the Fudgy Wudgy Men. 
  • Text:

A: “The Fudgy Wudgy man… he pushes the ice cream cart… uh… there’s the Spongebob bar, the… uh… Chipwhich, the… uh… um… cookie sandwich… Choco Taco!”

Me: “So he pushes the cart? When?”

A: “On the beach… from like a certain time period. I don’t know when it starts or when it ends.”

Me: “What do you mean? He pushes the cart on the beach?”

A: So… this man, well men… and women… um… he pushes an ice… well like a cart, that has ice in it and it has ice cream in it and he sells the ice cream to people… on the beach…

They go…

‘FUDGY WUDGY… CHOCO TACO… CHIPWICH… HOW ABOUT AN ICE CREAM'”

Me: “And just anyone can do this?”

A: “I think you have to apply for it, but I’m not quite sure…”

Me: “How do you know they’re the Fudgy Wudgy Man?”

A: “‘cus their shirts say ‘The Fudgy Wudgy Man’ and they have a flag that says ‘The Fudgy Wudgy Man’… uh… they also have 2 Ball ScrewBalls, Fudgesicles, Orange Creamsicles, Banana bars, Strawberry bars, Lemon Water Ice, Cherry Water Ice… water… that’s some good water…”

  • Analysis: The Fudgy Wudgy Man is a constant in the Jersey shore culture. The Fudgy Wudgy man sells shirts with the job title and a smiling popsicle graphic. He sings a song about his job to boost morale and notify the children of the ice cream cart. This phenomenon is similar to that of Ice Cream Man and Ice Cream Trucks, but instead the carts are pushed along the beach by hand. Many kids apply for the job in order to get a tan and get buff while walking up and down the beach, but their participation prolongs an essential part of South Jersey culture.

Going Out the Road

  • Context: The informant (A) is a 19 year old college student who lives at the Jersey Shore in South New Jersey in the summer. He explains to me the colloquial term used in his town when a person is driving from the island on which they live to stores inland. The conversation came up during a family discussion whether or not everyone in the town of Sea Isle City, NJ knows the term “out the road” means going inland or if it is specific to the informant’s family (this was never resolved). 
  • Text:

A: “Out the road is when you’re down at the shore in New Jersey… which is the southern part of Jersey in between Atlantic City and Wildwood.

And… uh… when you’re going out the road you drive inland and south towards where the shopping centers are in middle New Jersey… uh… and there’s a TJMaxx and there’s a couple other stores…

And you go out the road when you uh… when you want things… anyway that’s what out the road is.”

  • Analysis: “Out the road” is a term used to describe going from the islands to the inlands because you physically must go out the road. There is only one road leading in and out of the island in New Jersey where the informant spends his summers, so it makes sense that there is a term for this action. It creates a group of those who know the local terms and those who do not. It also creates a group of inlanders and islanders and the two are physically separated by a road as well as a specific term/speech.

Why do you have to taste soy paste and shit to tell them apart?

Context:

The subject is a college freshman, born in South Korea before moving to the United States when they were 12 years old. I wanted to get to know more about any folklore they might have experienced growing up, so I conducted an interview with them to find out.

 

Piece:

Subject: It’s said in a way, like, “You don’t have to taste the soy paste and shit to tell them apart.” I think I’ve told you this already.

Interviewer: Yup I remember this.

Subject: Like soy paste kinda looks like shit, but most people are aware enough, like, we know from afar. But people who are so stupid, or like, people who go the extra mile to be safe. We say, “why do you have to taste shit and soy paste to tell them apart, why can’t you just — why aren’t you smarter?”

Interviewer: So that’s basically what you say to someone when they’re being dumb?

Subject: Yeah, if you’re being stupid, you’re tasting soy paste and shit to tell them apart.

 

Analysis:

I tried looking up the phrase, however I was unable to find any substantive background to the saying. The subject went on to tell me additional proverbs from Korea that also have to do with food, leading me to believe that the culture may have a great appreciation for it.

While the United States pride themselves on fast meals, a staple of Asian culture is the dining experience. It’s communal and meant to be shared.

 

Urban Sayings in Mexico City

The informant is from Mexico City, currently rotating at UT Medical Center.

The interview occurred at a family barbeque on a Sunday.

 He and I discussed what he thinks about when he thinks of his home, which is originally Mexico City. He said that there is nothing quite like the sights and sounds of the urban squares of the densely populated capital. Here, Jesús discusses the marketplaces and street vendors in further detail.

“Hacerte Maje’ is a way of life, which means to cheat on people, and we sum it up by saying “el que no tranza no avanza”, which translates as “he who doesn’t cut corners doesn’t make progress”. Sadly, there is a tacit knowledge that corruption and lying are widespread; the “gandalla” is a person who breaks the rules in order to come out ahead. Traffic police are called Tamarindos, because they used to wear brown uniforms, the same color as the fruit, tamarinds, and México is known to be the capital of corruption. When an infraction is called, cops get paid to cancel the ticket, that payment is called “mordida,” which literally means bite. Public transport is usually run by organized groups that literally control the routes. People call the short, plump vehicles “peseros”. they used to cost one peso too, and they run the schedules and the routes as they please. The metro is also a place where things are sold illegally, and they pay the police “the mordida”, so that they are not stopped or detained as they carry on their business. On the metro you can be a victim of “bolsear”, which means to have your wallet stolen or “tortear,” to have your buttocks grabbed mercilessly; usually by a Patazo or Tigrazo; a despicable individual with no redeeming qualities. Our national holiday is on September 15th, not 5 de Mayo, as is wrongly assumed in the U.S.; although that commemorates the only victory our army had, the Batalla de Puebla. On Sep. 15th we celebrate “El Grito de Dolores”, which happened in Guanajuato.

This description of some of the folk sayings and forms of informal commerce gives some insight into the secondary economies of Mexico, wherein corruption and off the books dealings often do occur, but are so frequent they’ve become a part of the everyday. “El que no tranza no avanza” is an interesting saying that, although sly in tone, seems to imply that one cannot let others cheat, or to be weary of strangers. He gives the clarification that this saying for the most part applies to trivial happenings for the common person, and is used ironically when large-scale corruption is revealed. The fact of so many sayings surrounding corruption in Mexico gives us insight into the socialized aspect of discussing these exploitive practices. The question remains–is this socialization by folk dictums a form of combatting corruption, or have these sayings merely arisen due to frequency?