|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. Pig Latin takes the first consonant (or consonant cluster) of an English word, moves it to the end of the word and suffixes an ay (IPA [eɪ]) (for example, pig yields igpay, banana yields ananabay, and trash yields ashtray or rashtay (dependent on location/preferences)).
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:
- "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 (film) 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 oopid-stay", to warn Simba and Nala to stop talking about the hyenas.
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 Me" or something along those lines.
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.
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 ex-Yugoslavian countries.
In computer games
Total Annihilation references Pig Latin.
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