How to Speak Pig Latin

By James Holloway
Pig Latin has nothing to do with pigs. Then again, it also has nothing to do with Latin.

When children speak in Pig Latin, they're playing a traditional game -- often trying to prevent adults from understanding the mischief they're plotting. The rules of Pig Latin are simple, but learning to hear what's being said can take practice.

Words Starting With a Consonant

If a word starts with a consonant, move the consonant to the end of the word and add "-ay" to transform it into its Pig Latin equivalent. For example, "computer" would become "omputercay."

Words Starting With a Vowel

If the English word starts with a vowel, remove it altogether and instead add "-way" to the end of the word. For instance, "over" would become "verway."

Compound Words

Compounds words in Pig Latin sound better -- and more confusing -- if they are split into parts. Don't say "edheadray" for "redhead;" say "edray-eadhay" instead.

Putting It Together

To speak Pig Latin properly, string your words together into sentences as quickly as you can. "Can you speak Pig Latin?" -- or "ancay ouyay eakspay Igpay Atinlay?" -- works best if it comes out in a rapid stream, making it hard for listeners to grasp.

Lasting Influence

Although Pig Latin is mainly a game, it has had some impact on the English language, adding expressions like "ixnay" or "amscray" -- from "nix" and "scram" -- to the language.

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.