November 2, 2009 § 2 Comments

Many of you might recall speaking Pig Latin. It’s a pretty fun language game. Well brush of your Pig Latin and set your google language to it. That’s right, you can now google in Pig Latin

Ebway Imagesway Oupsgray Irectoryday


      Advancedway Earchsay
  Anguagelay Oolstay

Allway Aboutway GoogleOgay otay Google New Zealand //

©2009 Google

The basic rule of this language game is that the word initial consonant is detached from the word and added at the end. This consonant is then followed by the sequence <ay>, hence igpay atinlay. When confronted with consonant clusters, most speakers shift the sequence of consonants at the word’s beginning to the end, creating oom-bray from broom  though a minority of Pig Latin ‘speakers’ have a different dialect where the initial consonant of a cluster  is moved, i.e., room-bray. Different groups of speakers react differently to vowel-initial words. Some simply add <ay> and some use a default consonant +<ay> allowing apple to surface as apple-ay, appleway or applehay for example.

Pig Latin is not just for fun. Serious scholarship of Pig Latin can tell us something about metalinguistic awareness- what native speakers don’t know they know about language and its structure.

For example researchers examined different Pig Latin speakers to see what they did with words that had initial sequences of consonant followed by IPA /j/, the initial sound in ‘yes’ … known to linguists and many Massey linguistics students as yod.  For New Zealand English speakers words like mute (but not moot) cute, due/dew, new  have yods following the initial consonant. Barlow (2001) investigated these kinds of sequences in her work.  So perhaps before discussing them we might want to play with the pig latin, ourselves. Which of the following Pig latin sounds right to you.  Here the /j/ is the yod sound …

broke okebray rokebay  
puke ukepjay jukepay ukepay
bugle uglepjay juglebay uglebay
cute utekjay jutekay utekay
view iewvjay jiewvay iewvay
music usicmjay jusicmay usicmay
few ewfjay jewfay ewfay
tube ubetjay jubetay ubetay

Barlow, Jessica A. (2001). Individual differences in the production of initial consonant sequences in Pig Latin.  Lingua 111, 667-696.


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§ 2 Responses to ooglegay?

  • masseylinguists says:

    I have the move entire CC cluster (of the _br_) type dialect of Pig Latin … but I was not consistent with the yods in the list above. The yod was shifted with _ugle-bjay_ but not with _ute-kay_. In fact with this form, I deleted the yod altogether.

  • masseylinguists says:

    If people are not moving the cluster _Cj_ together but are moving _br_ as in okebray, what can we say about their intepretation of clusters? Barlow suggests influences of spelling may be one way to view or is that iewvyjay it. Another way is to suggest that the glide is not actually part of a cluster. One suggestion is that _jV_ is the surface realisation of an underlying dipththong.

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