Journal Title

Journal of Folklore Research

Publication Date



This article draws on material gathered in a community of Angolan refugee camps to describe and analyze the content of a children's verbal insulting game, called estiga-sein local Portuguese-language slang. The game takes a form similar to verbal insulting games in other parts of the world but also invokes local understandings of what it means to be a good person. Using examples from children asked about the game, this analysis offers a typology of insults used in the community and interprets how those types illustrate local norms and meanings. While some of the insults targeted familiar personal traits in creative ways (e.g., "Your chest is like a biscuit, when you try to concentrate it breaks"), it was more common for children to target behaviors and social roles (e.g., "Your father used witchcraft to steal bread from children" or "You traded your mother for an unripe mango"). The insults ultimately highlight a necessary balance between individual ambition and collective expectations for appropriate behavior within familiar social roles.


Child psychology; Invective

Publication Information

Journal of Folklore Research, 2014, Volume 51, Issue 1, 101-117.

© 2014 Indiana University Press

Archived version is the final published version.



Document Type

Journal Article

Published Version

(Available to UP community as permitted)