[Ads-l] Pig Latin

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 15 13:31:02 UTC 2020

DW provides antedatings of Pig Latin in the ADS archives:
http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2002-September/025505.html <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2002-September/025505.html>

He provides citations from 1844 to 1896, saying they come from MoA (Cornell), which is perhaps “The Making of America” collection (http://collections.library.cornell.edu/moa_new/ <http://collections.library.cornell.edu/moa_new/>). When I did a search, however, nothing came up for “Pig Latin”.

The OED has 1869 as the earliest citation. 

1. 14 Mar 1807
The Weekly Inspector, vol II, no 29 [number cut off?], p 44
https://tinyurl.com/yckpzkje <https://tinyurl.com/yckpzkje>

In our last, we attributed the _correct_ Latin phrase, “_Amicus publicum_,” to Cheetham; whereas, in fact, Duane is exclusively entitled to the honour of the manufacture of this pig-latin.

2. My ten-year-old son has proposed that the -ay ending in Pig Latin comes from Latin on the basis of my explanation of Senatus Populusque Romanus and a Latin phrase in “Over Sea, Under Stone” (Susan Cooper, 1965, p 40). 

It says _Mar_—no, _Marco Arturoque_.”

Cooper follows this with an explanation of how -que works and that the expression must mean King Arthur and his knight, King Mark of Cornwall.

My son’s proposal is pure speculation, but it makes sense and provides an explanation of why “Latin” is used, though another good explanation is that Latin is a language commonly around us yet difficult or impossible for most to understand. 

As an aside, Goose Latin and Bum Latin are mentioned in https://tinyurl.com/y932ss9h <https://tinyurl.com/y932ss9h> (1897). I did not search for those. 

Benjamin Barrett (he/his/him)
Formerly of Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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