I remember as a kid, growing up in the U.S., always trying to communicate with my friends in secret. One method we used was writing our notes in invisible ink. Also, we thought it was clever to write our notes with the letters backwards but we ended up just holding up the page to the light and reading it the right way anyways. The point is that we were challenging ourselves and using a different set of rules when it came to communication. One of the best ways I challenged myself as a kid is by speaking or attempting to speak Pig Latin.
Pig Latin is a constructed language game. The objective of Pig Latin is to modify English words in a certain way so that when you speak it, it sounds like a foreign language. In Pig Latin, you take the first consonant of the English word and move it to the end and then add -ay. For example, “What a beautiful day!” is translated to “Atwhay ayay eautifulbay ayday!” For words beginning with a vowel or a silent letter, you just add -way at the end of the word. For example egg becomes eggway. However the most commonly used words in this childish language game seem to be ixnay (nix) and upidstay (stupid).
The origins of Pig Latin seem to be unclear. It is said, though, that Thomas Jefferson had written letters in Pig Latin, and even the Google homepage provides a language display option in Pig Latin. Online
, you can even find machine translations where it will translate to and from English and Pig Latin. So it is unsure where it began, but it sure has not died yet.
It wasn’t too long ago we discussed Famously Constructed Languages in Pop Culture, where writers took to creating their own language for the fantasy worlds they built. However I would love to hear how others played with language and communication as a kid. Do you have any stories to share?