La Cucaracha--<no quero la comer>

Donald M Lance lancedm at MISSOURI.EDU
Tue Dec 11 21:01:18 UTC 2001

La cucaracha, la cucaracha
Ya no puede caminar
Porque no tiene, porque le falta
Marijuana que fumar.

(The cockroach, the cockroach
Now he can't go traveling
Because he doesn't have, because he lacks
Marijuana to smoke.)

Ya la murio la cucaracha
Ya la lleven a enterrar
Entre cuatro zopilotes
Y un raton de sacristan.

(The cockroach just died
And they carried him off to bury him
Among four buzzards
And the sexton's mouse.)

The genre of this song is the relación, a satirical form of folk song in
Spain that survives as the corrido in Mexico and Texas.  Every decent Texas
conjunto has to know the corridos on the deaths of Kennedy brothers, on
Hurricane Beulah, and other events.

When I was a graduate student, I did a term paper on the personification of
animals in these songs in Mexico.  In the last line, the sexton is a mouse
-- and the buzzards are the pall bearers.

Though the composer of early versions may have been satirizing a particular
person or event, as with all folk traditions, adaptation is the plan that
wins the game in the end.  The cucaracha is now just a cochroach, an old
jalopy, or a traditional Mexican icon that may be used as the name of a

If you go to the StraightDope site, you'll see the car reference that may
have turned the old Spanish song into a Mexican icon of sorts.  The word
"may" suffuses all reports on folk items like this one.


> From: davemarc <davemarc at PANIX.COM>
> Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 14:33:00 -0500
> Subject: Re: La Cucaracha--<no quero la comer>
> This might shed some light on the subject:
> Cheers,
> David

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