On Wednesday one of my Pre-Intermediate 1 students asked me, "Do you know pig bird?"
Naturally I thought she misspoke so I asked her to repeat her question. She once again said, "Do you know pig bird?" Still thinking she misspoke I wrote the word "pig bird" on the white board. The student excitedly nodded her head and said, "Yes, pig bird." She then said something in Vietnamese and all the students in my class started rambling in English, "pig bird." I asked the class what a pig bird is and one of the better speakers said in broken English, "when pig bird fly over house you die." I asked her to elaborate more but the language barrier was too great. There was only one thing to do--ask my Upper Intermediate class.
I brought the question to my UI students and the girls explained that when a pig bird flies near your house and sings it means someone is going to die. More or less the same explanation. The guys in my class began to yell out that it wasn't true -- a superstition if you will -- but the girls continued to defend it.
I asked if the pig bird looked like a pig but was told it only sounds like a pig. Yen, one of the pig bird defendants, began to make pig noises: "Yeeee Yeeee Yeeeee." Oh, for those of you who don't know, animal noises are different in ever country. If you try and translate the word dog by saying, "Woof Woof", people will have no idea what you're talking about or possible think you're describing a chicken. One of my favorite things to do is ask my younger students what noises a ____ makes and hear the response (Yes, I'll eventually get this on video).
Anyway, I'm now terrified of seeing a pig bird because, well, I don't want to die. I asked an artist to draw a picture of the bird so I can avoid it at all costs or at least attempt to shoot it with some kind of projectile if it flies over my house. So visitors if you come to 'Nam look out for this: