Tag Archives: word of mouth

B’s in My Bonnet Tongue Twister


My informant for this tongue twister is a friend’s grandfather. Since its conception, my informant has continued to tell and retell the mouthful of a twister to friends and family. This has led it to be changed and added to with each retelling, subsequently causing different listeners to learn different versions of it.


When he was a young child, my informant was walking around his backyard looking for his blue, toy boat to use in their pool. When he asked his sister where it was, she replied “what blue boat?” He then said “my bright blue boat.” “Your bright blue boogaloo boat?” “My bright blue beautiful boogaloo boat!” And so the tongue twister was born.

Main Piece:

“Bidding belligerently, Buffalo Bill bought Buster Burnett’s bright, blue, beautiful, boogaloo boat by Bobby Bridget’s black bungalow before bewildering Barbara Bennett’s big, buxom bunny by bouncing backwards blindfolded bearing Betsy Barnaby’s Big Boy Bonus Burger bedecked by Bart’s buttered barley buns.”


When my informant first told me of the tongue twister that he created, I wavered on whether or not it should be added to USC’s folklore library as it seemed to only apply to him. I thought this until he told me just how long he’s been working on developing the sentence, and how many people have ended up memorizing it. Additionally, my informant noted that a number of his friends and family have helped him add to the original tongue twister, each memorizing different versions and passing those to their own friends and family. While it can be very difficult to determine the source of any piece of folklore, “B’s in my Bonnet” is a clear and insightful demonstration of how a piece of knowledge or lore disseminates from one person to many, changing form over time and with each retelling.

“Coño” – A word for love, hate, and everything in-between

Context: MIMI #4

My informant is an 84 year-old woman of Spanish / Cuban ethnicity. She grew up in Havana, Cuba and lived there until she had to leave due to the take over of communism at the age of 22. This story was told as an explanation of the word “coño” in the Cuban perspective. The joy in her eyes from describing one of the most important words in her language was beautiful to see. 

Dictionary Definitions: Beaver, fanny, hell, holy crap, bloody hell… etc.


“The word is used tremendously in Cuba. coño is used very much in Spain as well. It cant really be translated, it’s an expression. This is the word for the daily life of daily Cubans in Cuba. It is used in so many ways in various significant ways. Without that word, you really couldn’t express a lot of things. This is a word that carries through everything that’s happening in your life: happiness, unhappiness, fights, thoughts, sadness, anger. I.. I mean it is truly a word that carries on throughout your life. So, if you’re gonna choose one word forever and only one, I would pick that one.”

Upon hearing this story, I was trying to think of a word in the english language that encompassed as much meaning as “coño”, but I really could not think of anything as specific as this. It is a word that fluidly floats through every facet of the human experience and is used to highlight these moments of great despair, happiness, anger, or love. I am curious to know how the word grew into its universal nature, as it seems as though it would have started out with a more singular meaning.

As someone who loves words and language entirely, I find it fascinating that a single expression can be used in so many different ways, depending on sentence structure and the way that it is performed. I think the closest expression we would have in english would be “wow”, because it can be used in so many different situations.

For another reference of ways to use the word, check here:


La Llorona

Interviewer: What is being performed?


Informant: A story by Amy Melendrez


Interviewer: What is the background information about the performance? Why do you know or like this piece? Where or who did you learn it from?


Informant:  “La Llorona” a lady drowned herself and her children by driving her car into a lake. Now she walks crying out for her children trying to find them.


Interviewer: What country and what region of that country are you from?


Informant: Mexico, central.


Interviewer: Do you belong to a specific religious or social sub group that tells this story?


Informant: Family’s Catholic but story is not religious.


Interviewer: Where did you first hear the story?


Informant: Family


Interviewer: What do you think the origins of this story might be?


Informant:  Folkloric, word of mouth


Interviewer: What does it mean to you?


Informant: It’s a bit of a joke- “If you don’t go to sleep, La Llorona will get you.” It’s more for children.


Context of the performance- conversation with a classmate


Thoughts about the piece-  Although “The Weeping Woman” is a popular Hispanic ghost story, my informant seems to think it is contemporary (mentioning a car). For a more traditional telling of this old cautionary tale about an unfaithful husband and his vindictive wife, see here: http://www.literacynet.org/lp/hperspectives/llorona.html This story is thought to be from the 1500s but a 1986 San Antonio murder has eerie similarities: https://ghostcitytours.com/san-antonio/haunted-places/la-llorona/