pig latin (fwd) (fwd)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Sep 5 08:19:54 UTC 2002

I don't think it's from "pidgin".

"Pig Latin", "hog Latin", etc. are old expressions; the most common one in
the 19th century was perhaps "dog Latin", which may be to Latin as
"doggerel verse" is to verse ... that is, "dog" meaning "inferior", perhaps
referring to the Latin proficiency expected from a dog. I suppose any
ignoble animal can replace the dog in this usage and several did ... but
especially the pig. The early sense I think was "bad Latin", i.e.,
inarticulate or incorrect Latin or Latin used in an inappropriate context.
This was extended to pseudo-Latin gibberish and then to gobbledegook of any
sort, but applied particularly to various invented 'languages' used by
children. There were also "dog Greek", "pig Greek", "goose Latin", etc.

 From MoA (Cornell) [from among many examples]:

E. A. Poe, "Marginalia" (1844): <<I cannot imagine why it is that Harrison
Ainsworth so be-peppers his books with his own dog Latin and pig Greek ....>>

"The Galaxy" 1(7):638 (1866): <<He adds as many new letters as the boys in
their "hog latin," which is made use of to mystify eavesdroppers. A boy
asking a friend to go with him says, "Wig-ge you-ge go-ge wig-ge me-ge?"
The other, replying in the negative says, "Noge, Ige woge.">> [Should be
called "hog Chinese" maybe? --DW]

R. B. Kimball, "To-Day: A Romance" (1869): <<I had plenty of ammunition in
reserve, to say nothing, Tom, of our pig Latin. "Hoggibus, piggibus et
skotam damnabile grunto," and all that sort of thing ....>>

J. Flynt, "The Children of the Road" (1896): <<It was something like the
well-known "pig Latin" that all sorts of children like to play with ....>>

-- Doug Wilson

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