What is Pig Latin and why it is not actually the Latin language

Pig Latin is a pseudo-language used by English-speaking people to obscure or disguise something from non-Pig Latin speakers.

Language is a form of expression to express ideas in human thought. It is also an essential medium for understanding ideas and feelings of others. In many societies, language can symbolize the identity of its bearers since it is simply said that language is also an expression of culture. A language can develop into several variations or even provide a setting for the invention of other codes that make each society unique with its own style.

Millennials in America, for example, have a popular unique childhood language called Pig Latin. This language is an artificial or made-up code language used by children for fun. Although it is now less popular among children, some adults who have experienced this language during childhood still speak it fluently, so it seems fun to discuss it. 

What is Pig Latin?

Pig Latin is nowhere close to Latin and it can’t even be considered a language. Linguists consider Pig Latin as a pseudolanguage, an argot, or a code language. This language was largely used to talk exclusively and humorously among its users. This language was also used to discuss secrets or to exclude someone who didn’t know the trick from a conversation. 

Basically, pig-latin is an alternative to English since the vocabulary is derived from converted English vocabulary. The rule for converting English into Pig Latin is simple and consistent. You can translate any English word to Pig Latin by moving the first consonant to the end of a word, and adding the suffix “ay”. For example, “allohay” is derived from the word “hello” and “elcomeway” from the word “welcome”. 

For some words that begin with more than one consonant, you should move the whole consonant cluster to the end like “eam-scray” from “scream” and  “itch-sway” from “switch”. If the word begins with vowel, you only need to add “ay”,”yay”, or “way”, for example, “I” becomes “Iyay” and “it” becomes “ityay”. However, some words are generated with exceptions like “yextra-yay” for “extra”.

A Brief History of Pig Latin

It is still unknown when Pig Latin was exactly invented. While it is believed to have only been popular during the 1900s, previous pieces of literature provide evidence that a type of coded language called hog or dog Latin also existed long before then. 

In Shakespeare’s play “Love’s Labor Lost”, a piece of example on the line “O, I smell false Latine; dunghill for unguem” is a clear instance of a corrupted Latin word that proved such kind of Pig Latin existed hundreds of years ago. In the 1800s, the appearance of a secret language of children similar to Pig Latin was recorded. This early type of Pig Latin resurfaced in 1919 after the song “Pig Latin Love” became popular among the public including children.

Soon after its first popularity in the modern era, the Pig Latin has become a part of American culture especially among younger generations who were becoming obsessed with the coded-language. In the 1930s, a comedy show on TV popularized the two Pig Latin words, ixnay and amscray, which are now common words in English dictionaries.

Pig Latin is not the only word-play language or made-up language in English. Back slang is another example of colloquial languages that reverse english words like man become nam, or boy become yob. 

Not only in English, some languages have a similar conversational coding style by using broken source words like pig-latin but perhaps with different rules. This type of jargon is found in France (Loucherbem), Denmark (Varkens Latijn), German (Mattenenglisch or Kedelkloppersprook), Swedia (Fikonspråket), and Indonesia (Prokem). 

Although Pig Latin is no longer popular like in the 1900’s, we can still find some people using it to talk secrets today or just to have fun since it can be a creative way of communicating. In commercial words, advertisements are the field that often uses the term from Pig Latin. For translators, understanding Pig Latin could give a beneficial ability to easily spot creativity in a text so that you can translate them accordingly.

Avehay ayay oodgay ayday!

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