LINGUIST List 8.1221

Sat Aug 23 1997

Disc: Double-Dutch and Youthese / Pig Latin

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  • kdcaldw, Re: 8.1208, Sum: Double-Dutch and Youthese / Pig Latin

    Message 1: Re: 8.1208, Sum: Double-Dutch and Youthese / Pig Latin

    Date: Thu, 21 Aug 1997 19:39:22 -0700
    From: kdcaldw <>
    Subject: Re: 8.1208, Sum: Double-Dutch and Youthese / Pig Latin

    On Thu, 21 Aug 1997, The LINGUIST List <> wrote: >From: Waruno Mahdi <> >Subject: Summary: Double-Dutch and Youthese / Pig Latin

    >Jack Hall: > >In my response to the query about Pig Latin, I mentioned what I called >the "op" language, which I read about in a book or magazine when I was >about 10-12 years old (mid 1950's). As I recall, the simple rule was: >put "op" (phonetically [a:p] after every consonant in a word except >the last (final) consonant. I am not certain what the rule was about >consonant clusters. Thus "dog" would be "dopog". I remember >specifically that the word "umbrella" was given as: >"umopbopropellopa", indicating that "op" is to be placed after all >three consonants at the beginning (umbr--), but only one after the >double "l". I have never met anybody who has heard of this language, >or knew how to use it, and, since I learned about it from a book, >rather than from other people (children), I cannot say anything about >the sociolinguistics of it. For me it is an idiolect (!!)

    I've heard of it. When I was about 10 (1973-74) some friends and I played around with a language we called "oppish". We did it a little differently from what you described above. "Op" was inserted after each consonant, even the last one, based on how the word was spelled, so that "ship" would be "sophopipop", and "umbrella" would be "umopbopropeloplopa."

    > >Some tentative Conclusions: > >(A) Both phenomena, Pig Latin-type phonologically manipulated secret >language, and Youth Slang, are apparently neither an Anglosaxon, >nor a European particularity. > >(B) Predeliction to Pig Latin-type language game covers a much wider >age bracket than I had initially suspected, beginning at around 10 >years, and overlapping with Youth Slang, in which Pig Latin-type >expressions may be taken up as Slang-specific words.

    I think I was familiar with Pig Latin as young as 5 or 6 (of course, I had older brothers, so that helped), and I remember using it with friends in about the second or third grade (7 to 9 years old). Pig Latin is also used occasionally by adults, often to keep their very young children from understanding what they are talking about (similar to spelling words out). I also remember that Fred Flintstone (from the TV cartoon series "The Flintstones" sometimes muttered, "Ix-nay, Barney, ix-nay," when he thought that Barney Rubble was saying too much. That's Pig Latin for "Nix, Barney, nix," where "nix" (meaning "nothing") is slang for "Shut up before you get us in trouble," or "Put a sock in it."

    My parents also had a Spike Jones Christmas record album that included "Jingle Bells" sung partly in Pig Latin by some children: "Ingle-jay ells-bay, ingle-jay ells-bay, ingle-jay all the ay-way..."

    Kevin Caldwell