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Template:Original research Template:Infobox Language game

Pig Latin is a language game of alterations played in English. To form the Pig Latin form of an English word the onset of the first syllable is transposed to the end of the word and an ay is affixed (for example, trash yields ash-tray and plunder yields under-play and computer yields omputer-cay). The purpose of the alteration is to both obfuscate the encoding and to indicate for the intended recipient the encoding as 'Pig Latin'. 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'.

Another version is to take the first letter from the word (unless a vowel) and put it at the end with an added ay. Using the examples above: trash becomes rashtay, and plunder becomes lunderpay.


The origins of Pig Latin are unknown. 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". Thomas Jefferson wrote letters to friends in pig Latin. (see Hailman in the references below)


Pig Latin is mostly used by people for amusement or to converse in perceived privacy from other persons. A few Pig Latin words, such as ixnay[1] (nix), amscray[2] (scram), and upidstay (stupid), have been incorporated into American English slang.Template:Citation needed

Rules and variations[]

The usual rules for changing standard English into Pig Latin are as follows:

  1. In words that begin with consonant sounds, the initial consonant or consonant cluster is moved to the end of the word, and "ay" is added, as in the following examples:
    • beasteast-bay
    • doughough-day
    • happyappy-hay
    • questionestion-quay
  2. In words that begin with vowel sounds or silent consonants, the syllable "way" is simply added to the end of the word. In some variants, the syllable "ay" is added, without the "w" in front. Sometimes the vowel will be moved and followed by the syllable "hay".
    • anotheranother-way or another-ay
    • ifif-way or if-ay
    • Aboutbout-ahay"
  3. In compound words or words with two distinct syllables, each component word or syllable is sometimes transcribed separately. For example: birdhouse would be ird-bay-ouse-hay.

Transcription varies. A hyphen or apostrophe is sometimes used to facilitate translation back into English. Ayspray, for instance, is ambiguous, but ay-spray means "spray" whereas ays-pray means "prays."

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 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. In Fikonspråket, speakers split each word after the first vowel, switch places of the two parts, put "fi" before the second part and "kon" after the first part. The word "fimp", meaning cigarette stump, originated from Fikonspråket ("stump" = "fimp stukon").

French has the loucherbem (or louchébem) coded language, which supposedly was originally used by butchers (boucher in French).Template:Citation needed 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, depending on the word). ex: fou (crazy) = loufoque. A similar coded language is largonji.[3]

See also[]

  • Back slang
  • Dog Latin
  • Language game
  • Louchébem
  • Rhyming slang
  • Tutnese
  • Ubbi dubbi
  • Verlan
  • Gibberish (language game)



Template:Nofootnotes Template:Refbegin

  • Barlow, Jessica. 2001. "Individual differences in the production of initial consonant sequences in Pig Latin". Lingua 111:667-696.
  • Cowan, Nelson. 1989. "Acquisition of Pig Latin: A Case Study". Journal of Child Language 16.2:365-386.
  • Day, R. 1973. "On learning 'secret languages'." Haskins Laboratories Status Report on Speech Research 34:141-150.
  • Hailman, John R. Thomas Jefferson on Wine. University Press of Mississippi, 2006. page 12. [1]
  • Haycock, Arthur. "Pig Latin". American Speech 8:3.81.
  • McCarthy, John. 1991. "Reduplicative Infixation in Secret Languages" [L'Infixation reduplicative dans les langages secrets]. Langages 25.101:11-29.
  • Vaux, Bert and Andrew Nevins. 2003. "Underdetermination in language games: Survey and analysis of Pig Latin dialects." Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, Atlanta.


External links[]

de:Pig Latin es:Pig Latin eu:Pig Latin fr:Pig latin it:Pig latin la:Pig Latin hu:Pig Latin nl:Pig Latin ja:ピッグ・ラテン pl:Świńska łacina pt:Língua do P ru:Поросячья латынь simple:Pig Latin sv:Pig Latin uk:Поросяча латина zh-yue:拉丁豬 zh:兒童黑話