|Spoken in||English-speaking countries|
|See also: Language games|
Pig Latin is a constructed language game in which words in English are altered according to a simple set of rules. The objective is to conceal the meaning of the words from others not familiar with the rules. The reference to Latin is a deliberate misnomer, as it is simply a form of jargon, used only for its English connotations as a strange and foreign-sounding language.
The origins of Pig Latin are unknown. A youthful Thomas Jefferson wrote letters to friends in Pig Latin. One early mention of the name was in Putnam's Magazine in May 1869 "I had plenty of ammunition in reserve, to say nothing, Tom, of our pig Latin. 'Hoggibus, piggibus et shotam damnabile grunto,' and all that sort of thing," although the language cited is not modern Pig Latin, but rather what would be called today Dog Latin.
The Atlantic January 1895 also included a mention of the subject: "They all spoke a queer jargon which they themselves had invented. It was something like the well-known 'pig Latin' that all sorts of children like to play with."
The usual rules for changing standard English into Pig Latin are as follows:
For words that begin with consonant sounds, the initial consonant or consonant cluster is moved to the end of the word, and "ay" (some people just add "a") is added, as in the following examples:
- "pig" → "igpay"
- "banana" → "ananabay"
- "trash" → "ashtray"
- "happy" → "appyhay"
- "duck" → "uckday"
- "glove" → "oveglay"
For words that begin with vowel sounds or silent letter, you just add "way" (or "wa") to the end. Examples are:
- "egg" → "eggway"
- "inbox" → "inboxway"
- "eight" → "eightway"
Some people also follow this rule with words that begin with vowel sounds, only the first letter is moved to the end of the word, then you just add "way" after.
- "egg" → "ggeway"
- "apple" → "ppleaway"
- "I" → "Iway"
Some people who speak Pig Latin follow an alternate second rule; this version of the rule dictates that if a word begins with a vowel (either a, e, i, o, or u) only the first letter is moved and the phrase added to the end is "i", however this form is fairly uncommon.
- "apple" → "ppleai"
- "end" → "ndei"
- "i" → "ii" pronounced like "ee" in "eek"
- "ocelot" → "celotoi"
- "under" → "nderui"
Similar language games
Similar languages to Pig Latin are Opish, in which "op" is added after each consonant (thus, "cat" becomes "copatop"); Turkey Irish, in which "ab" is added before each vowel (thus, "run" becomes "rabun"), and Double Dutch, in which each consonant is replaced with a different consonant cluster (thus, "how are you" becomes "hutchowash aruge yubou").
In popular culture
The song "Gettin' Jiggy With It" by Will Smith includes lyrics in Pig Latin.
In November 2013, Microsoft launched a negative advertising campaign against Google promoting their electronic communication services; Outlook, referencing this language with the claim that using it enables you to avoid Gmail's advertisement algorithms.
In the comedic film Polyester the character Cuddles Kovinsky, a poor maid who has inherited a large sum of money, answers the phone in pig Latin.
In The Lion King Zazu says "ixnay on the upid-stay", to warn Simba and Nala to stop talking about the hyenas. One of the hyenas, Banzai replies "Who you callin' upid-stay?"
In Monsters, Inc., Sully, whilst trying to keep the fact he has a human child in his bag secret from those around him, whispers to Mike to "Ooklay in the agbay", before explaining "Look in the bag" when Mike doesn't comprehend.
In the episode "Dear Mildred," in the fourth season of the television program M*A*S*H the character Margaret Houlihan addresses the character Frank Burns with a short sentence in Pig Latin, the joke being that it takes Burns several seconds to interpret what she has told him.
In 2014, a Geico commercial makes use of Pig Latin, where a couple is shown talking in Pig Latin to avoid being understood by one of the Geico mascots, which ironically, is a pig.
Also, in the movie Short Circuit 2, just before Johnny 5 is attacked, there is a bit of Pig Latin. The sentence was "Etgay Ehindbay Imhay", as Oscar instructs his cohorts to sneak up behind Johnny..
There is a short conversation in Pig Latin in "The Mask" where the Lieutenant tries to tell his partner that Stanley has a gun, to which his partner replies "Pig Latin, right? Eesay ouya aterlay."
In the children's novel series "Dragon Slayers' Academy" by Kate Mcmullan the main protagonist, Wiglaf is fluent in pig Latin as a result of his best friend/pet pig, Daisy, speaking in it after the wizard, Zelnoc, granted the pig the ability of speech due to Wiglaf's wish. However, the spell went wrong and the pig could only speak Pig Latin rather than regular English.
In other languages
In Bernese German, a variety of Pig Latin called Mattenenglisch was used in the Matte, the traditional working-class neighborhood. Though it has fallen out of use since the mid-20th century, it is still cultivated by voluntary associations. A characteristic of the Mattenenglisch Pig Latin is the complete substitution of the first vowel by i, in addition to the usual moving of the initial consonant cluster and the adding of ee.
The Swedish equivalent of Pig Latin is Allspråket, which uses the same or similar rules but with the suffix "-all." Additionally, the Swedish language game Fikonspråket ("Fig language") is similar to Pig Latin. Further, Norwegian and Swedish languages have "Røverspråket/Rövarspråket" (English: The robber language"), where consonants (spelling matters, not pronunciation) are doubled, and an o is inserted in-between ( t = tot). Vowels are left intact. For example would the sentence "I love bacon" become " I lolovove bobacocanon" in the robber language.
French has the loucherbem (or louchébem, aka largonji) coded language, which supposedly was originally used by butchers (boucher in French). In loucherbem, the leading consonant cluster is moved to the end of the word (as in Pig Latin) and replaced by an l, and then a suffix is added at the end of the word (-oche, -em, -oque, etc., depending on the word). Example: combien (how much) = lombienquès. Similar coded languages are verlan and langue de feu. A few louchébem words have become usual French words: fou (crazy) = loufoque, portefeuille (wallet) = larfeuille, en douce (on the quiet) = en loucedé.
Another equivalent of Pig Latin is used throughout Balkan. It is called "Šatra" (/sha-tra/)or "Šatrovački" (/shatro-vachki/) and was used in crime-related and street language. For instance, marihuana (trava) turns to "vutra", Balkan slang name for cocaine (belo - meaning "white") turns to lobe, a pistol (pištolj) turns to štoljpi, bro (brate) turns to tebra. In the past few years it has become widely used between teenage immigrants in former Yugoslavian countries.
In computer games
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- "Secret Languages/Mystery Messages". Face Monster. Retrieved May 4, 2013.
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- "LARGONJI : Définition de LARGONJI". Cnrtl.fr. Retrieved 2014-03-10.
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- Vaux, Bert and Andrew Nevins. 2003. "Underdetermination in language games: Survey and analysis of Pig Latin dialects." Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, Atlanta.