LINGUIST List 2.406

Wednesday, 14 August 1991

Disc: Pig Latin (language games)

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  1. Allan C. Wechsler, igpay atinlay
  2. Vicki Fromkin, Re: Queries

Message 1: igpay atinlay

Date: Wed, 14 Aug 1991 17:16-0400
From: Allan C. Wechsler <ACWYUKON.SCRC.Symbolics.COM>
Subject: igpay atinlay
Here is an article that presents a nice selection of play languages.
Sherzer, Joel. "Play Languages: With a Note on Ritual Languages" in
Exceptional Language and Linguistics, Obler, Loraine K., and Menn, Lise,
eds., 1982, Academic Press, New York; pp. 175-199.
Sections are titled:
Five Kuna Play Languages
Two Variants of a Complicated French Play Language
Seven Javanese Play Languages of Increasing Complexity
Some English Play Languages
Play Languages in Spanish and Portuguese
Significance and Implications
A Note on Ritual Languages
There is an extensive bibliography. Looks like a good place to get
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Message 2: Re: Queries

Date: Wed, 14 Aug 91 15:19 PDT
From: Vicki Fromkin <>
Subject: Re: Queries
Response to Peter Salus query on behalf of Jeff Haemer:
There are thousands of languge games similar to Pig Latin. I don't think
anyone has every studied a language community without finding one or
more. I once had a non-published mimeographed monograph with listings
of hundreds but I am not sure where it is. Ken Hale reported a
game used by the Walbiri, natives of central Australia, in which the meanings o
words are distorted rather than the phonological forms, e.g. Ns, Vs, Adj's
are replaced by their semantic oposites -- man for woman, up for down etc.
The game Ubby Dubby was used in a children's television program popular in
the 1970's. King Tut was a popular game in English. In Thai, there is
a game in which syllables are moved and like Pig Latin there are at least
two varieties, in one, the tones remain as in the original with just the
segments of syllables moved, and in another the tones move with the syllable.
Wish I could give you some references and could do so in a while but right
now am too busy working on book revisions of Intro Text and am not going
into ucla office where I could put my hands on the references.
Oh yes, Joel Sherzer at U of Texas describes a language game played by
Cuna Indians. reference is Sherzer, Joel. Talking Backwards in CUna: the
sociological reality of phonological descriptions. in Southwestern
Journal of Anthropology 26: 343-353 1970. He has fuller descrfiptions
in his book but I do not have the reference here.
Hope this helps. Vicki Fromkin
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