Double DutchSecret languages have been used for centuries, both verbally and non-verbally, as an essential way of communication where normal vocalization has been restricted or prohibited. Travellers used secret languages amongst themselves to retain their identity when they travelled through and worked in other communities; Polari was used by gay men in Britain when homosexual activity was illegal, to protect themselves from conspirators and undercover policemen, and was used considerably in the British Merchant Navy; American POWs in Vietnam developed a tapping code with their fingers when they were prevented from speaking to each other.

Nowadays, there’s little need for them and secret languages are usually no more than language games. We´ve all tried speaking in secret languages as kids, getting a kick out of no-one else being able to understand what we´re saying. Some classic secret languages are described below, using ‘Mary had a little lamb’ as an example for each.

Pig Latin

This is the most widely known secret language and is constructed by taking the first letter of a word and placing it at the end of the word, then adding ‘ay’:

Arymay adhay aay ittlelay amblay.

Double Dutch (see picture)

All consonants are replaced with a syllable, while vowels remain the same:

Mumarugyub hutchadud a lulituttutlule lulamumbub.


‘Egg’ is added before each vowel:

Meggary heggad egga leggittlegge leggamb.

Eggy-Peggy is the English equivalent of the US spoken Ubbi Dubbi which adds ‘ub’ before each vowel sound.

Have you ever been intrigued by secret languages? Which ones did you try speaking when you were younger?