Owhayarehayouyay?Atwhayiswayouryayamenay? Elcomeway. Sounds almost like something out of the Sims, doesn’t it? If this doesn’t make sense to you, welcome to Pig Latin. The phrases above translate to; How are you? What’s your name? And Welcome.
Pig Latin is a pseudo-language or argot where we use a formal technique altering English words. The basic rule is to switch the first consonant or consonant cluster to the end of the term and then adding suffix “ay” to form a new word. For instance, the word ‘pig’ would become igp+ay which becomes igpay.
It is a typical language game for children who want to use a coded language in sports or to confuse adults. But this unique language has also found its way to literature (such as the famous Dragon Slayer books), advertising and many other areas.
If you want to work in advertising, translation or other areas where words are crucial, you might find it necessary to learn this playful language. This guide delves into the exciting world of Pig Latin to help new users find their ways around the rules and usage.
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This post was updated on March 2021
History of Pig Latin
The phrase Pig Latin seems to imply there’s a connection with the language used by Romans for centuries. However, this is not the case as this language game originated from kids’ play in the 1800s. It was initially known as Hog Latin before taking the more formal term Pig Latin.
However, there are earlier mentions of this type of language game which was then called dog Latin. It was a parody of the Latin language which had become a language of the elite in the middle ages. Shakespeare’s 1598 play, Love’s Labour’s Lost references dog Latin implying a play on English words.
The earliest mention of Hog Latin was in an article published in 1866. It referred to the addition of letters to a word to form a language used by young boys and is similar to Pig Latin today. Another mention was in May 1869 in Putnam’s Magazine.
The use of this language game referred to a Latin-esque gibberish which mocked people who still used the dying Latin language. The release of the song Pig Latin Love in 1919 popularized the language game among kids and made more people start noticing.
While many words in this language are momentary, some have caught on quickly and lingered. Examples include “Ixnay” from ‘nix,’ and “Amscray,” an alteration of “scram.” The 1929 film “Broadway Melody” featured the term “Ixnay” and the word has remained in common usage since then.
In literature, author Kate McMullan of the Dragon Slayers’ Academy serine is one of the leading supporters of Pig Latin. She has used the playful language for her lead character Wiglaf. Such mainstream use of the language game has made it popular and seen interest in its use grow. Radio ads and slang are other areas where Pig Latin has grown over the years.
In 2014, Pig Latin made news in a court pitting Microsoft against Google. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the advertising watchdog, ruled in favor of Microsoft in a legal battle with Google’s Gmail.
It was regarding an advert where Microsoft had addressed Gmail users about their safety. The company implied that Gmail users would have to understand and use Pig Latin to prevent the email provider from reading their emails.
Translation Rules for Pig Latin
Like with any new language, it is crucial to learn the formal rules of pig Latin. This not only gives you a solid foundation in the language game, but it also helps you understand its usage. These rules will also come handy if you have a text to translate to pig Latin.
1. Words Beginning With Consonants/Consonant Clusters
- Pick any English word. The name could start with a consonant or consonant cluster or a vowel.
- If you’ve got a word starting with a consonant cluster or consonant move the consonant or consonant cluster from the initial location of that particular word to the last position of the name.
- Add a suffix the suffix “-ay” to the end of the word.
- Duck becomes uckd+ay to form the pig Altin word uckday
- Move become ovem+ay to form ovemay
- Scratch becomes atchscr+ay to form atchsray
2. Words Beginning With Vowels
If you want to create a Pig Latin word from an English word starting with a vowel, add the suffix “-yay”, “-way”, or “-ay” at the end of the original word. For instance,
- Oval becomes ovalyay
- Ultimate become ultimateyay
- Odd becomes oddyay
3. For Words Starting With the Letter ‘Y’
The letter ‘Y’ creates a tricky situation when forming words in Pig Latin. Users have to determine whether the letter is a vowel or consonant based on its location in a name. Here are some essential facts to remember:
i) When the latter ‘Y’ comes are the beginning of an English word, you consider it a consonant. This means you move it to the end of the term and then add suffix –ay. For instance;
- Yellow becomes ellowy+ay to form ellowyay
- Year becomes eary+ay to form earyay
ii) When the letter ‘Y’ appears in the second position of a word, the standard rules for word formation apply. E.g
- Dyke becomes yked+ay to form ykeday
iii) If you have a consonant cluster at the beginning of the word and the letter ‘Y’ comes at the end of this cluster, you treat it as a vowel and hence doesn’t move with the consonant cluster. Example:
- Rhythm becomes ythmrh+ay to form ythmrhay
4. Creating Pig Latin words from Compound Words
You should first separate the compound word into individual words and apply the appropriate rules. For instance,
- Bathroom becomes athbayoomray
- Toothbrush becomes oothtayushbray
How to Get Started With Translating Pig Latin
Now that you know the rules, the next step is, of course, to apply them in your translation project. Learning how to translate to pig Latin can come in handy if you are working in advertising or voice work projects.
Some clients want to use creative advertising ideas, and Pig Latin can feature among their tactics. In such cases, your expertise in Pig Latin will come handy. You can also create playful adverts in Pig Latin and share them on social media and other platforms to catch the attention of advertisers.
Here are some steps to get you started in translating Pig Latin:
1. Use A Training Partner
It is easy to learn any language when you have a partner. Your partner will come handy when you practice the translation rules. They will help you practice, and the whole experience becomes more exciting.
2. Record your Translation Efforts
Recording your training sessions is a great way to evaluate your progress in language learning. For pig Latin, your objective is to understand the rules and apply them as quickly as possible to any English word.
With time, you will find it easier to translate any word into the new language. If you listen to your recorded clips, it’s easier to note your weaknesses and improve.
3. Go From The Known To The Unknown
Pig Latin is a new language to you, and with this in mind, you should start with translating the most common words and phrases before moving onto more sophisticated sentence constructions. This is the cardinal rule in learning any language. As you get used to the common phrases, it will become easier to apply translation rules to more complex expressions.
4. Research Pig Latin
If you want to build a career in Pig Latin translation, take time to dig deeper into the language game and learn how it came about. You can do this by joining forums of Pig Latin users, listening to audios and learning variations of the language.
For instance, some Pig Latin speakers interchange “yay” with “way” when creating new words from English words starting with vowels. In such a case, the term ‘earn become ‘earnway’ rather than ‘earnay.’ These variations are correct, and if you have a client’s project, it’s essential to confirm which version of Pig Latin to use in the translation.
5. Practice in Writing
Writing and sharing texts in the new language and translating popular works are smart strategies to learn the rules of Pig Latin. Whenever you have free time, take a document and start translating it using the rules you have learned.
Some Useful Phrases in Pig Latin
If you have any text to translate to pig Latin, it is essential to learn the most common phrases in the language first. This will save you a lot of time when working on your text. Here are some common English phrases translated to Pig Latin:
|Please speak more slowly||Leasepaypeaksayoremaylowlysay|
|Please say that again||Leasepayaysayatthayagainway|
|Please write it down||Leasepayritewayitwayownday|
|Do you speak English?||OdayouyaypeaksayEnglishway?|
|Good morning||Oodgay orningmay|
|Good afternoon||Oodgay afternoonway|
|Good evening||Oodgay eveningway|
|Good night||Oodgay ightgay|
|Call the police!||Allcayethayolicepay!|
|Happy New year||AppyhayEwnayEearyay|
|Long time no see||Onglayimetayonayeesay|
|What’s your name?||Atwhayiswayouryayamenay?|
|My name is …||Ymayamenayisway …|
|Where are you from?||Erewhayarewayouyayromfay?|
|I’m from …||Iwayamwayromfay …|
|Pleased to meet you||Leasedpayotayeetmayouyay|
|I don’t know||Iwayon’tdaynowkay|
|How much is this?||Owhayuchmay?|
|Where’s the toilet / bathroom?||Erewhayiswayethayoilettay?|
|Would you like to dance with me?||Ouldwayouyouikelayotayancedayithwayemay?|
|I miss you||Iwayissmayouyou|
|I love you||Iwayovelayouyou|
|Get well soon||Etgayellwayoonsay|
|Leave me alone!||Eavelayemayaloneway|
Pig language might have started as a kids’ language game, but today, its use has gone into the mainstream. In a world where creativity is in high demand, advertisers might require your services to translate texts and even video scripts to Pig Latin. Once you understand the rules, there’s no looking back. You have to keep practicing to become a professional Pig Latin translator.
And, of course, if you’re looking for professional translators in most any language, you can submit a project with Bunny Studio and we’ll deliver stellar results every time.