What Is Pig Latin? – Origin, Meaning & Examples

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

What is Pig Latin? No, it’s not a secret language only spoken among pigs. In fact, it’s not a real language at all. Pig Latin is more of a word game, and it’s been around for years. It’s a super fun way to speak in code with people you know, as long as they know Pig Latin, too. But it can be tricky to learn, so I’ll explain what it is, how to use it, and how to decipher it!

What Is Pig Latin?

What Is Pig Latin Origin Meaning Examples

It’s an obscure language game where you manipulate words from the English language by simply rearranging their letters and adding certain syllables. It looks and sounds hard to figure out, but it’s easy enough that kids use it. In fact, kids apparently invented it.

Is Pig Latin a Language?

Unfortunately, as cool as it sounds, Pig Latin isn’t actually a real language. Although, I know some people who can speak and understand it as fluently as they do English. Kind of like Klingon; it’s not real, but it has enough rules and understanding that it could be.

Pig Latin Origin

Pig Latin Ngram
Pig Latin usage trend.

Some of the origins go back to the early 19th century and come from children creating silly ways to communicate. It is referenced in The Secret Language of Children in 1897 when describing how ridiculous kids sound when explaining things. As a parent, I completely understand this.

It’s been referred to as Pig Latin, Hog Latin, and even Sheep Latin.

The language game eventually became popular in the United States during the early 1900s and has since become a part of American culture, used in T.V., books, and movies. So much so that some people believe it’s a real language.

What Are Some Examples of Words in Pig Latin?

You start by taking a word’s first consonant or consonant cluster and moving it to the end of the word, then follow it with the suffix “-ay.”

If you wanted to say, “Hello, world!” the word “hello” becomes “ellohay,” and “world” becomes “orldway” to form “ellohay orldway!”

Basic Rules of Pig Latin

It’s a made-up game, so the rules are more along the lines of suggestions to make it work.

  1. Take the first consonant of any word and put it at the end.
  2. Then, add the suffix “-ay” to the end of the word, but only if it starts with a consonant.
  3. If the word you’re using starts with a vowel, you have to add the suffix “-way” instead.

I’ve heard of other rules and variations of this playful language, but like anything made-up, new rules and ways of doing things get thrown in the mix over the years. But these three points are all you need to know for basic Pig Latin.

Sentence Examples Using Pig Latin

What Is Pig Latin Origin Meaning Examples 1

To keep it simple, I’ll show you the sentence in Pig Latin and then the correct sentence in English next to it.

  • Iway ovelay igpay atinlay ecausebay itway isway unfay! (I love Pig Latin because it is fun!)
  • Ethay uickqay ownbray oxfay umpedjay overway ethay azylay ogday. (The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.)
  • Iway ovelay ouyay. (I love you.)

Inway Onclusioncay

The rules for Pig Latin are simple, and with a bit of practice, you can learn to speak it as fluently as English. Play around and practice so the next time you hear someone speaking in Pig Latin, you’ll know what they’re saying! Or, use it to talk in code around non-Pig Latin speakers.