Podcast

Episode 101 • Secrets

101

Tell on someone

Tattle

Snitch

Snitches get stitches

Go behind someone's back

Story

Michael: Jackie. Mrs. Gray wants to see you in her classroom.
Jackie: What? Why? Did she find out I brought my phone to school?
Michael: I don’t know! I didn’t tell her anything.
Jackie: Really, Michael, really? She just wants to see me. You were the only one who knew. I can’t believe you told the teacher on me!
Michael: I- I didn’t. I don’t – I don’t tattle.
Jackie: You swore you weren’t going to say anything. I had no idea you were a snitch. You know what happens to snitches, right.
Michael: Yeah, snitches get stitches but I didn’t-
Jackie: Well, I guess we’ll find out, Michael. I promise you, if I find out you went behind my back and told Mrs. Gray that I brought my phone to school, I promise I will-
Mrs. Gray: Jackie? You brought your phone to school? You know that’s against the rules.
Jackie: Mrs. Gray… I know but- Sorry. Here it is. Please don’t tell my parents. Can I go now?
Mrs. Gray: Go? No, I wanted to see you to talk about the recital.
Jackie: Wait, so this wasn’t about the phone?
Mrs. Gray: The phone? didn’t know about the phone. I just heard you say it… right now.
Michael: I told you!

Questions

Oh, so poor little Michael was telling the truth.

Tell on someone

'I can’t believe you told the teacher on me!'

• If you want to tell on someone, who will you talk to? A friend or someone in authority?

If you are going to tell on someone, you will have to talk to someone in authority. It can be a parent or it can be a teacher, for example.

• And if you tell on someone, what will you tell the parent or the teacher?

If you tell on someone, you are going to tell the parent or the teacher that, that someone, that person has done something bad. "Mrs. Gray, Mrs. Gray, Mike is making fun of Lucy." Well, in that case, I am telling on Mike.

• Who uses this expression? Children or adults?

It's definitely something that's common among children. It would sound pretty childish, if you told your 30-year-old friend, "Hey, I'm going to tell on you."

• Have you ever told on someone?

I don't remember a time when I told on someone, but I've been told a story from when I was little. Apparently, I was alone with my sister Paola, and for whatever reason she got mad at me, and she grabbed me by the wrist. I'm sure she didn't hurt me or anything, but I got upset. I have no idea how old I was. Maybe I was four I want to say, I don't know. I went to the bathroom, and I got a bunch of toilet paper. I started putting the toilet paper around my wrist as if it was a bandage, and then when my mom came home, I told on my sister. Now, this is what I've been told. I don't remember everything clearly, but apparently, yes, that one time I did tell on my sister.

Tattle

'I don’t tattle.'

• If a child tattles, who will they talk to? A friend or someone in authority?

Once again, if a child tattles, that means that they will talk to someone in authority.

• What will they tell them? That they have done something bad or that someone else has done something bad?

If they tattle, that means that they go up to a parent or a teacher, and they tell them that someone else has done something bad. It's like telling on someone.

• Why do you think children tattle?

That is a good question, because children love to tattle. I think maybe they do that because maybe they like the attention. Obviously, when you tattle, you've got the attention of the teacher for a little bit. Also, maybe some students, they want to make a good impression on the teacher. Sometimes, kids can be mean. They could just tattle because they want to hurt someone else. They want to see somebody else suffer, and suffer the consequences of what they've done.

Snitch

'I had no idea you were a snitch.'

• What does a snitch do? Reveal a secret or keep a secret?

A snitch is someone that reveals a secret that they shouldn't reveal.

• Who does a snitch reveal these secrets to? A friend or someone in authority?

A snitch is someone who reveals secrets to someone in authority. Once again, if you are at home, it could be your parents. If you are at school, it could be a teacher. If you are in the "real world", it could be the police.

• Who uses this expression? Children or adults?

Telling on someone and tattling are two things that are very common among kids, but the word snitch can actually be used by adults. Kids can say it and they will say it. They will accuse their friends of being snitches. If you watch like, prison shows or crime shows, you will see some adults call other adults snitches when they want to say that these people have betrayed them, and they have talked to the police about them, and they've revealed some secret information that could get them in trouble.

• Did someone ever accuse you of being a snitch?

Not that I can recall. I don't recall ever being called a snitch. I'm sure that one time when I told on my sister, my sister thought I was a snitch.

Snitches get stitches

'Yeah, snitches get stitches...'

• What does the expression ‘snitches get stitches’ mean? That there will be consequences for snitches or not?

Absolutely yes. When saying "snitches get stitches", really you are implying that, if I ever find out that you are a snitch and that you betrayed me, that I will beat you up to the point where you will need stitches. It's a pretty powerful thing to say. Obviously, when you say that, you don't mean that literally, you just say it as a threat to let the other person know that there are consequences for people who are snitches, but yes, it's just something that you say. It's not a literal threat.

• Do you have any sayings in your language about snitches?

There is one saying about snitches in Italian. It says 'chi fa la spia non e' figlio di Maria'. Translated that would be, "If you are a snitch, then you are not Mary's child." By Mary, we mean the Virgin Mary. It's a religious thing. People don't really associate it with anything religious, but I guess it means that if you are a snitch, then in a way, you are not worthy of God. Again, it's not something that people say thinking about God or anything else. It's simply a threat used by children in a way that's very similar to “snitches get stitches” although a lot less violent if you ask me.

Go behind someone’s back

'...if I find out you went behind my back and told Mrs. Gray that I brought my phone to school, I promise I will-''

• If you go behind someone’s back, do you do something with them knowing about it or without them knowing about it?

If you go behind someone's back, you do something without that person knowing about it. You do it in secret.

• Have you ever done something behind someone’s back?

There is something that I recently did behind my boyfriend's back. Marcos, if you're listening to this, I'm sorry, but I was just doing that to protect you. I've already talked about this, but you know how he doesn't like throwing food away, which I totally get it, but sometimes food goes bad. The other day, I was doing my usual check in the fridge to make sure that all the food was fine and still edible, and I found this eggplant that was pretty old. I wouldn't have eaten it. I didn't want him to it, because I didn't want him to get sick. So what I did is I went behind his back-- I'm sorry, Marcos, again. I threw it out, and then I went to the store and got a new one and [chuckles] replaced it. Again, I was just doing that to protect him. I was technically excused.

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