It's latin pig latin. Figure it out.


I was never really good at Pig Latin. And by good I mean ‘gave a shit’.

I was surprised that after a ton of googling research, I wasn’t much closer to finding the answer to the origin of Igpay Atinlay. Versions of the annoying game played by annoying little kids, predate shakespeare, and vary from region to region.

There are a few references to ‘pig latin’ in 19th century magazines, but (confusingly) these references are probably to ‘Dog Latin’ which is a bit more cerebral ancestor of Pig Latin.  John Hailman states in his book “Thomas Jefferson on Wine’ that a bachelor Jefferson wrote letters to his friends in pig latin, but it is more likely to be, again, Dog Latin. Later on he would write love letters to his slave baby mommas to keep his correspondance secretive and as “quite a dandy goof”.

Consensus seems to be that the version of Pig Latin we know today, was born sometime in the 20th century. In 1919 Columbia records released an album with Arthur Fields singing “Pig Latin Love”. The Subtitle “I-Yay Ove-Lay oo-yay earie-day” indicates that this is the modern form of Pig Latin we recognize today. I was able to scrounge up a photograph of the 1919 sheet music on eBay. Below the Pig Latin subtitle is the translation, “(I love you dearie)”, suggesting that perhaps this form of Pig Latin hadn’t taken root among the general public yet.

Whatever the true origin, my best guess is that the breeding ground for modern Pig Latin was the American schoolyard, where it remains to this day.

Please, if you have any more information, I’d love to piece this together. I believe this overlooked bit of history could land you and I the Nobel Prize, or at the very least the highly coveted Nobel Participation Ribbon.

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