Speaking Swine: A Pig Latin Primer

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There’s something undeniably cool about communicating via secret code. And the long-beloved language of kiddie spies, sleuths and language lovers is Pig Latin. The nonsense-sounding words are actually simple to speak and understand once you know the basics. So practice with this Pig Latin primer and you may just be able to boast that your kiddo is “bilingual” on their kindergarten application!


Words that Start With Consonants

For words that begin with a consonant (like hello) or a consonant cluster (like friend), simply move the consonant or consonant cluster from the start of the word to the end of the word. Then add the suffix “-ay” to the end of the word.

For example: The word “hello” would become ello-hay, the word “lunch” would become unch-lay and the term “Pig Latin” would become ig-pay Atin-lay.

Words beginning with consonant clusters would change like this:”Friend” would become iend-fray, the word “brother” would become other-bray and “smart” would become art-smay.

Words that Start With Vowels

For words that begin with vowels, all you need to do is add “-yay” (some Pig-Latin speakers may add “-way”) to the end of the word. It’s a little bit of a brain break, as you don’t need to change any letters around, just say the word as normal then add “-yay” to the end.

For example: The word “it” becomes it-yay, the word “olive” becomes olive-yay and the word “under” becomes under-yay.

This also holds true for the personal pronoun “I”, which becomes i-yay.

Extra Tips: 

Compound Words
Longer words that contain two distinct words are usually broken up into two parts, then the speaker follows the rules above for each of those words. It makes them harder to understand for those not fluent in Pig Latin (and isn’t that the whole point?)

For example: The word “bedroom” becomes ed-bay oom-ray and understand becomes “under-ay and-staay.”

That Tricky Letter Y
For words that contain the letter Y, you will have to ask the age-old question: Is that Y behaving like a vowel or a consonant? If it is the first letter in the word, chances are its in consonant mode and you should then follow the “Words that Start with a Consonant” rule above.

For example: The word “Yellow” becomes ellow-yay and “young” become oung-yay.

If Y is the last letter in a two or three letter word, such as “my” or “cry” the normal rules apply.

For example: “My” would become y-may. “Cry” would become “y-cray”

However, if the letter “Y” comes at the end of a consonant cluster, like in the word “rhythm”, it is treated like a vowel and does not move to the end of the word. For example, “rhythm” becomes ythm-rhay.

Got it? Good!

Now it’s time to practice. Here are ten common phrases that you can use to get your brain and tongue working like a native Pig Latin speaker. Ood-gay uck-lay!

What’s up?  At’s-whay up-way?

How are you? Ow-hay are-way ou-yay?

What are you doing later? At-whay are-way ou-yay oing-day ater-lay?

I love you. I-way ove-lay ou-yay.

I have a secret  I-way ave-hay a-way ecret-say.

I want a cookie too. I-yay ant-way a-yay ookie-cay oo-tay.

I like bananas. Bananas are good. I-yay ike-lay anana-bays. Anana-bays are-yay ood-gay.

Can you speak Pig Latin? It’s really not that hard. You should try it. An-cay ou-yay eak-spay Ig-pay Atin-lay? It’s-way eally-ray ot-nay at-thay ard-hay. Ou-yay ould-shay y-tray it-way.

Can you speak Pig Latin? Then leave your comment below in it! 

–Erin Feher

photo: Jolie Loeb

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