Pig Latin is a language game of alterations played in English. To form the Pig Latin form of an English word the onset of the first consonant is transposed to the end of the word and an ay is affixed (for example, trash yields ash-tray and plunder yields under-play and computer yields omputer-cay). The purpose of the alteration is to both obfuscate the encoding and to indicate for the intended recipient the encoding as 'Pig Latin'. The reference to Latin is a deliberate misnomer, as it is simply a form of jargon, used only for its English connotations as a 'strange and foreign-sounding language'.
Another version is to take the first letter from the word (unless a vowel) and put it at the end with an added ay. Using the examples above: trash becomes rashtay, and plunder becomes lunderpay.
The origins of Pig Latin are unknown. One early mention of the name was in Putnam's Magazine in May 1869: "I had plenty of ammunition in reserve, to say nothing, Tom, of our pig Latin. 'Hoggibus, piggibus et shotam damnabile grunto', and all that sort of thing", although the language cited is not modern Pig Latin, but rather what would be called today Dog Latin. The Atlantic January 1895 also included a mention of the subject: "They all spoke a queer jargon which they themselves had invented. It was something like the well-known 'pig Latin' that all sorts of children like to play with". Thomas Jefferson wrote letters to friends in pig Latin. (see Hailman in the references below)
Pig Latin is mostly used by people for amusement or to converse in perceived privacy from other persons. A few Pig Latin words, such as ixnay (nix), amscray (scram), and upidstay (stupid), have been incorporated into American English slang.
Rules and variations
The usual rules for changing standard English into Pig Latin are as follows:
- beast → east-bay
- dough → ough-day
- happy → appy-hay
- question → estion-quay
- another→ another-way or another-ay
- if→ if-way or if-ay
- About→ bout-ahay"
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