Archive for the ‘Invented languages’ Category

Hidden Meanings

Posted on September 29th, 2013by Melanie
In Historic, Invented languages, Language acquisition | Leave a Comment »

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?

Virtual Vocabulary

Posted on September 13th, 2013by Melanie
In English, Invented languages, Slang | Leave a Comment »

Virtual vocabulary 3Have you ever wondered what kids spend so much time doing on the Internet? Well it seems that they´ve been creating, learning and speaking a whole new language!

Born into the virtual world that´s still so ‘new’ to most of us, kids have grown up online with a fearless approach to the Internet and related technology. These tech savvy little people have even created their own form of online communication which is completely baffling to the rest of us.

So how are parents (or anyone else for that matter) supposed to understand what their kids are saying? Luckily, the ‘Digital Dictionary’ has been compiled to help solve the problem.

The Lingo Low-down

Savage means good

Sick means cool

Ill means amazing

Fetch means awesome

Derp means stupid

Jank means gross

Owned means embarrassed

Neg means annoying

The Digital Dictionary

Disney´s Club Penguin, an online virtual world for kids, compiled this dictionary after conducting research about parents´ holds over their children´s online activities. Of the 1,000 parents of 6-14 year olds who were surveyed, nearly two thirds confessed to not understanding their kids´ online language. In a bid to aid these bemused parents, the Digital Dictionary lists the 50 most popular words used by children online. 25 of these have positive meanings, although you wouldn´t know it at first glance, while the other 25 have negative meanings.

Are you struggling to make sense of this online vocabulary? Have you got a beef with this virtual language? The newly published dictionary will give you the tools you need to understand it, so be reem and learn the legit lingo.



LOLcats Language

Posted on February 6th, 2013by jake
In English, Invented languages, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Twitter knows how to create some good publicity with an advertising gimmick. Twitter is currently available in a variety of different languages from Arabic to Urdu. Twitter also caters for languages that are usually forgotten about like Basque and Catalan. Twitter has decided to also cater to internet addicts by creating a version of Twitter. LOLcats is an internet meme in which people combine pictures of adorable cats with a comical, capitalised, ill spelt caption.

Taking a trip to transforms your timeline into a tribute, of sorts, to one of the internet’s most ensuring memes.

Twitter is replaced by TWITTR, while Home becomes HUM. COMPOZE NEW TWEET, VUW PHOTO and EXPAN.KTHX have also replaced the conventional commands on the site.

Whilst language purists may shiver at the sight of their Twitter page proudly proclaiming VIEW MAH PROILE PUJ, the gimmick is undeniably funny. It also raises an interesting point about ‘correct’ English usage. I’m all for the evolution of the English language, but imagine picking up your daily newspaper to find it written entirely in LOLcats. It is perhaps a good idea to have a common notion of ‘correct’ English.

via: Techradar


Posted on November 10th, 2012by jake
In English, Invented languages | Leave a Comment »

When I was younger my friends and I used a language called gibberish to conduct secret conversations. I remember when I first attempted to speak it my tongue was tied and it seemed as if I would never be able to speak at the pace my friends could. After a little bit of practice I could waffle away at a fast pace for hours without even thinking about it.

Gibberish has very simple rules yet is very difficult to decipher if you do not know them. For single syllable words the rules are very simple. The first sound of the word is followed by an uther, and the second part begins with a g. For example, car would be cuther gar. Tree would be truther gee. Coin would be cuther goin. As each syllable is treated as it’s own word in Gibberish two syllable words are split in two. Money would be Muther gun uther gee. Sister would be Suther gis tuther ger, and so on. Now you know the rules try to decipher the word below.

Chruther gist muther gas

The Oxford English Fictionary

Posted on July 21st, 2012by Michelle
In Culture, Invented languages, Words | Leave a Comment »

This could well be my new favourite Tumblr: The Oxford English Fictionary.

The Fictionary is dedicated to “Defining words that aren’t real. Yet.” It accepts user submissions as follows:

The OEF exists to define words that do not exist. If you have a word that needs a definition, submit it. If you have a word that already has a definition, that’s very nice, but go contact Merriam Webster instead.

A couple of my favourite recent words are:

Anachronister (noun): a time-traveling spider. (word submitted by anonymous)

Shquibble (verb): to verbally argue with someone, with both sides in full anger, in complete silence after having been shushed by a librarian. (word submitted by Chris)


Posted on March 30th, 2012by Michelle
In Invented languages, Words | Leave a Comment »

It’s one of the longest and probably one of the most famous words in the English language, but where did supercalifragilisticexpialidocious come from?

A nonsense word, it was popularised when it appeared in a song in the musical Mary Poppins. Songwriter Robert B. Sherman explained its origins:

“We used to make up the big double-talk words, we could make a big obnoxious word up for the kids and that’s where it started. ‘Obnoxious’ is an ugly word so we said ‘atrocious’, that’s very British,” he explained. “We started with ‘atrocious’ and then you can sound smart and be precocious. We had ‘precocious’ and ‘atrocious’ and we wanted something super-colossal and that’s corny, so we took ‘super’ and did double-talk to get ‘califragilistic’ which means nothing, it just came out that way,” and that “in a nutshell what we did over two weeks.” Simple. (Source: Contact Music)

Simple indeed!

Fashion dictionary

Posted on September 23rd, 2010by Michelle
In Culture, English, Invented languages, Language acquisition | Leave a Comment »

Are you having trouble telling your treggings (seen in picture) from your jeggings? Then a new dictionary is here to help.

Department store Debenham’s has launched an online reference guide to fashion lingo to “help clear up the confusion”. The guide defines terms such as “mandles” (sandals for men”) and “whorts” (winter shorts).

As these terms are reasonably simple amalgamations of two common items of clothing (blurt = blouse/skirt), I can’t help feeling that a spokeswoman for Debenham’s is taking it a bit too far when she says:

“It’s now easier to understand Sanskrit than some of the words commonly used by commentators within the fashion industry to describe garments.” (Source: Sky News)

Apparently the reason behind the dictionary is: that every shopper – both fashion expert and non expert alike – can shop easily and clearly in all of our stores. However, we are also urging the fashion industry to use existing English words to describe their garments rather than made up amalgamations. We’d love to drop all these amalgamations and at the very least we are committed to keeping their use to a minimum. (Source:

A noble cause indeed.

Texting changes Canadians

Posted on April 21st, 2010by Michelle
In Culture, English, Invented languages, Slang, Technology, Words | Leave a Comment »

TextingBack in 2004, I was lucky enough to spend a year in Canada. At one point I was amazed to find that some of my Canadian friends didn’t know their mobile phones had a text messaging function.

Apparently that’s changed, and dramatically – the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association will announce this week that Canadians sent 35.3 billion texts in 2009, or around 122 million per day.

All this texting has given rise to a new set of words employing the suffix ‘ting’, including ‘drexting’ (drinking and texting) and ‘chexting’ (cheating on your partner via text). The most famous (or infamous perhaps) is ‘sexting’ – sending X-rated images, messages and video via your phone – partly due to one famous golfer.

These words are most likely fads and will die out as texting become less of a novelty. It’s good to know that they still have meaning, though:

Maria Bakardjieva, who studies the socio-cultural aspects of technology, says the implications of this trend cut both ways.

“We’re stronger and richer with every new medium that allows us to connect to others,” says Bakardjieva, a professor of communication and culture at the University of Calgary. “But with texting, we’re also brutalizing written language in order to communicate. Still, it demonstrates that humans can fill any message with meaning and utility, no matter how lean.” (Source: Vancouver Sun)

Questions on invented languages

Posted on March 31st, 2010by Michelle
In Culture, Invented languages | Leave a Comment »

Having written a few posts about invented languages such as Na’vi and Klingon, I was interested to come across this post posing questions to two experts in the field.

One of the experts is the inventor of Na’vi, the language used in the movie Avatar, so there are a few questions posed about that, with interesting responses. Here’s a sample:

One thing that always strikes me about languages is that some of them (particularly) English are such kleptomaniacs: they steal liberally from other languages they come in contact with, but they frequently seem to have rules for how things are assimilated. Japanese has a positively Ellis Island-like knack for making borrowed words sound completely different and naturalized, while at the same time using an entirely separate character set to keep them segregated. English, on the other hand, has so many words of foreign origin that most speakers aren’t even aware of it. So I’m curious, then, about the “future” of the Na’vi language: how do you expect it to change as it bumps up against English and other languages and their alien vocabulary, sounds, and concepts? — John

Paul Frommer: On Pandora there are already some borrowings from English into Na’vi – English words the locals have adopted for alien objects and concepts that have been filtered through the Na’vi sound system. “Gunship” is kunsìp; “book” is puk; “badge” is pätsì. On the other hand, some words are developed from existing elements rather than borrowed: “human” is not yumìn but rather tawtute, which literally means “sky person.”

As you’ve noted, languages differ in their readiness to borrow foreign words. Among the Na’vi-enthusiast community that has exploded in the last couple of months, the sentiment seems to be against borrowings except as placeholders until suitable native expressions are coined. So “computer” and “lawyer” are not kompìyuter and loyer but rather eltu lefngap (metal brain) and, tentatively, pängkxoyu lekoren (one who discusses rules). I expect this preference to hold as Na’vi continues to develop, especially in view of the fact that the emerging community is not limited to English speakers. (Source: Schott’s Vocab Blog)

As you can see, the questions and answers are quite long and in-depth, so be sure you have a bit of time on your hands before starting to read. Enjoy!

Obscure job titles

Posted on March 21st, 2010by Michelle
In English, Invented languages, Words | Leave a Comment »

Last week I posted about office jargon and how it can obscure simple meanings.

Going one step further, what if your job title was jargon and obscured what you really do?

A BBC article asked readers to submit their silliest job title, and here are some of the results:

3. My job title is a waste management and disposal technician. In other words, a bin man.
Alex, Newcastle upon Tyne

5. I had the rather uninspired job title of head of inspiration for a while. I failed to live up to it.
Gav, Sydney, Australia

7. Currently on secondment, my job title has changed from the all-purpose customer services administrator to direct debit and membership and professional development stock and credit administrator.
Martin, Bromley, Kent

16. My job title is worldwide marine asset financial analyst. But what it all comes down to is I’m an accountant.
Steve Scott, Rochester, Kent, UK

24. My job title for about a year was coordinator of interpretive teaching, which entailed taking school groups round a museum. Posh name for a tour guide, basically.
James Morris, London, UK

As the writer of this blog, I suppose I could describe myself as an ‘information management specialist’. It sounds much more important than ‘blogger’ or ‘writer’ but doesn’t make it clear what I really do. Having read these titles though, perhaps I should promote myself to ‘Head of Inspiration’!