Do you have any urban myths in your country? If so, do you believe them? On this podcast, we’ll tell you some from around the world and help you improve your English.
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If you get bitten by a….. (la machaca – mariposa caimán)
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What is an urban legend or myth?
A genre of folklore comprising stories circulated as true, especially as having happened to a “friend of a friend” or family member, often with horrifying or humorous elements (source: Wikipedia)
The Spider Bite
A tropical spider bites you and lays eggs under your skin.
a boil or large lump develops and when it bursts, baby spiders come out from under the skin.
This isn’t possible, but it appears in many horror books and films (Alien, Wrath of Kahn, The Host and Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher.
The Slender Man
Slender Man is a modern myth that was started online as part of a competition to Photoshop pictures to include a supernatural element.
Slenderman wears a black suit and tie and has a white and featureless face.
He is often seen in the shadows of photos, stalking small children, and some say that he can drive you insane with terror.
He was first seen at a hospital for the mentally ill. There was a bloody rampage in the hospital and afterwards a photo showed him hiding under the stairs while chaos erupted around him.
Since then, Slenderman has gone viral and millions of authors, mostly online, have shared and spread his story. The Slender Man’s MO is to kidnap people, often children.
The Hairy Hands
On an isolated stretch of road in Dartmoor, England, late at night, many people have reported that a pair of hairy hands suddenly appeared out of nowhere and grabbed the steering wheel of their car or handlebars of their motorbike and tried to steer the victim to crash off the road. The legend dates back to 1921 when a worker at the infamously desolate Dartmoor Prison battled with the hairy hands on his motorbike handlebars. His kids in the sidecar managed to jump to safety, but he was killed.
The Yeti, or the Abominable Snowman, is said to roam the Himalayas by the Sherpa people.
Description: “an enormous, shaggy ape-man with huge feet and aggressive sabre-like teeth.”
It’s said to reach about 6 feet tall, and produce footprints that are around 13 inches long.
The North American version of the Yeti is Bigfoot.
Bigfoot has been called a “ferocious beast who attacks loggers and hikers, or a gentle giant who wants to be left alone.”
The legend of Bigfoot begins in 1958 when journalist Andrew Genzoli published a letter from a reader of the paper he worked at.
The letter detailed mysteriously large footprints that loggers in northern California had found.
“Maybe we have a relative of the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas,” Genzoli wrote. (source: History.com)
Bigfoot is often (allegedly) sighted in the Pacific Northwest.
Umm Al Duwais
In the UAE, citizens are afraid of the jinn (genie, spirit) Umm Al Duwais.
The word “genie” is the anglicized version of the Arabic word “jinn.” Jinns can be good or evil beings.
Umm Al Duwais is one the most famous jinns in the United Arab Emirates.
She was even immortalized in a film in 2013. Her story is simple: At first, she appears as a beautiful woman to attract men. But as soon as she’s reeled them in, Umm Al Duwais changes into a terrifying figure who eats the men she’s enchanted.
A Banshee (Irish Bean Sidhe = woman of the fairies) was/is a supernatural being of Celtic folklore. It is said that whoever hears her mournful wailing at night is soon to die. Don’t worry if you’re only on holiday in Ireland, as it is believed that they only forewarn people of pure Irish descent of their imminent doom.
They were first believed to be vampiric reptilian creatures that drain goats and other small animals of their blood.
The first reported sighting of a chupacabra (goat-sucker) was in March 1995 in Puerto Rico, when eight sheep were found dead and drained of blood, with three small puncture wounds in their chests. Five months later, as many as 150 farm animals were found killed in the same way.
More (alleged) sightings followed in Latin America and the southern US, as far north as the state of Maine.
In the 2000s, the chupacabra re-emerged, but it looked a bit different.
“It was described as a hairless, dog-like animal walking on four legs,” and “quite horrific-looking: hairless, with a gaunt appearance and burnt-looking skin.” (source: BBC)
Do you know any urban legends or myths from your country that we haven’t talked about on this podcast? If so, send us a message and tell us.
…and now it’s your turn to practise your English.
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On next week’s episode: Australian English
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