Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Oct 15 02:19:16 UTC 2008

On Tue, Oct 14, 2008 at 10:10 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> At 10/14/2008 07:41 PM, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>>Brunvand doesn't use the term. His label for the "fit hits the Shan"
>>genre is "Stories with Punning Punch Lines." ("If the Foo shits" is
>>also listed in this category, collected in 1959.)
> Aha!  (And I probably heard it around 1961-63.)  If Brunvand tells
> the tale, I will be re-educated.  With Laurence's reminder that the
> Foo is a bird, I vaguely recall something about flying around in
> ever-diminishing circles, and about its fundament.

Brunvand relates, non-shaggily:

C55. The Foo Bird. An explorer in Africa ignores the advice of natives
to leave the excrement of the Foo (or "Flu") bird on him. He stops to
wipe it off and is caught by pursuers, or he wanders in a river and is
eaten by a crocodile. The moral: "If the Foo shits, wear it."
--Oral tradition (two informants), 10 Nov. 1959; IU 1.
[IU = Indiana University Folklore Archives]

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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