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What is the name of this game?
October 24, 2009 9:28 PM   Subscribe

A quickie - what's the name of the game where a bunch of people sit in a circle and the first person whispers a secret into the ear of the person on one side, they whisper it to the next, and it goes around the circle, only to end up being an entirely different secret?

For example, someone starts with "I gave my brother a ride to work" and it ends with "I saw my mother ride a stork." I remember playing this as a kid, and I've also been in a volunteer orientation class where this was used as an bad way to communicate.(Google is not my friend this evening.)

Does anyone have any great real-world examples?
posted by zinfandel to Society & Culture (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Telephone.
posted by Zophi at 9:29 PM on October 24, 2009


Telephone! This was sort of the impetus for the Broken Picture Telephone that took MeFi by storm a while ago.
posted by jessamyn at 9:29 PM on October 24, 2009


Telephone
posted by tastybrains at 9:29 PM on October 24, 2009


Shit, I thought it was called post office. Thanks, y'all!
posted by zinfandel at 9:31 PM on October 24, 2009


Chinese whispers.
posted by hot soup girl at 9:31 PM on October 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Post Office is a kissing game.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:38 PM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another name I''ve heard is Whisper Down the Lane.
posted by scalefree at 10:19 PM on October 24, 2009


Second chinese whispers
posted by epiphinite at 10:34 PM on October 24, 2009


I was listening to The Bugle recently and John Oliver was calling his radio cohort Andy Zalzmann from New York... anyway, John referred to the game of Telephone, to which Andy was like "Wait, that sounds like the game Chinese Whispers..." and John was like "Yeah, but they call it Telephone over here in the States."
posted by blueberry at 10:47 PM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


In Australia it's Chinese Whispers.
posted by flabdablet at 11:08 PM on October 24, 2009


I learned it as "broken telephone" back in Girl Guides.
posted by sinderile at 11:25 PM on October 24, 2009


telephone here
posted by nadawi at 12:01 AM on October 25, 2009


Send three and fourpence, we're going to a dance.
Chinese whispers in Ireland.
posted by Iteki at 12:14 AM on October 25, 2009


I'm with the other non-USians - in the UK, it's Chinese Whispers.
posted by jontyjago at 12:40 AM on October 25, 2009


Chinese Whispers.
posted by jonathanstrange at 12:55 AM on October 25, 2009


Broken Telephone here (South Africa), but have also heard it referred to as Chinese Whispers.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 1:05 AM on October 25, 2009


I knew it as Telephone, growing up in the American South. As for a real-world example, here is someone proposing marriage via a game of Telephone involving 59 people, although they call it a "whisper chain".
posted by transporter accident amy at 1:09 AM on October 25, 2009


Chinese Whispers
posted by Xany at 1:44 AM on October 25, 2009


I was hoping that by the end of this thread the answer "Telephone" would have morphed into something like "Tuba Machine". You know, for extra meta-goodness.
posted by annathea at 2:24 AM on October 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


Stille Post -> "Silent Mail" in german.
posted by mathiu at 3:53 AM on October 25, 2009


Chinese Whispers.

Wait, is that racist?
posted by dg at 4:14 AM on October 25, 2009


Chinese Whispers.

Wait, is that racist?


Personally, I think it is. Really mildly so, but yes. To me, it implies an old stereotype of Chinese not being trustworthy, and twisting words around.
posted by typewriter at 5:35 AM on October 25, 2009


Another vote for Chinese Whispers (UK), Canadian-Chinese wife says Telephone. She says probably not PC, but she's not offended by it.
posted by arcticseal at 6:19 AM on October 25, 2009


Purple monkey dishwasher
posted by DieHipsterDie at 7:02 AM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I played this in Sunday School, it was called Gossip. Everywhere else though, it was Telephone.
posted by donajo at 7:17 AM on October 25, 2009


In Canada it's Broken Telephone, in Britain it's Chinese Whispers, and a friend from France told me that she knew it as Arabic Telephone!
posted by Kirjava at 7:33 AM on October 25, 2009


I've heard the over 70 set in Canada refer to it as Chinese Whispers.
posted by fish tick at 8:06 AM on October 25, 2009


(Re: racist thing - I'm Chinese and I still call it chinese whispers. It's just a game.)
posted by Xany at 10:15 AM on October 25, 2009


The name "Chinese whispers" reflects the former stereotype in Europe of the Chinese language as being incomprehensible.[3] It is little-used in the United States and may be considered offensive.[4]
posted by so_gracefully at 10:32 AM on October 25, 2009


Reminds me of the Momus song "The Age of Information":

Chinese whispers was an analogue game
Where the signal degraded between brain and brain
Digital whispers is the same in reverse
The word we spread gets better, not worse
Better, not worse

I always assumed the "Chinese" in the name was the same reference as "Chinese Firedrill" where everyone jumps out of a car while stopped at a red light, runs around, then gets back in - a reference to Chinese doing things "differently"/badly/incomprehensibly (yes, fairly racist).
posted by Gortuk at 11:35 AM on October 25, 2009


BTW, Momus is Scottish so more evidence for that being a UK usage. In Canada we just called it Telephone.
posted by Gortuk at 11:36 AM on October 25, 2009


Another English vote for Chinese Whispers here. I was a kid in the 1970s, if that helps to date the reference.
posted by vickyverky at 11:48 AM on October 25, 2009


Chinese whispers. And if you do it in sign language (any sign language) it's even funnier.
posted by flutable at 4:01 AM on October 26, 2009


We always called it Whisper Down the Alley. Also known as Snakes in the Valley.
posted by joshrholloway at 5:33 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


a reference to Chinese doing things "differently"/badly/incomprehensibly (yes, fairly racist)

I never really saw a "badly" part in Chinese whispers and Chinese fire drills. It seems to me that for an Australian to think of China as a place where things are done differently and in many ways incomprehensibly is perhaps a little parochial but not necessarily even faintly racist. To a monolingual English speaker, Chinese is incomprehensible.
posted by flabdablet at 6:41 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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